Sunday, September 16, 2007

What Could Be Better Than Handcrafted Books? Linda's Review of Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden



When I first saw Creating Handmade Books I immediately thought about books for my grandchildren. After all, I'm a HUGE proponent of reading. If you're familiar with my blogs you know that I always buy books for the grandchildren for Christmas. To me there is nothing better than reading and improving one's mind.

So, when I saw "Creating Handmade Books" I was intrigued. According to the back page "take one piece of paper...a pair of scissors...and you have the tools to make a book! Now how much fun would that be to create a book. And, talk about family heirlooms. I decided that I definitely had to find the time to make some of these.

In the preface Lisa gives us a little insight into her background and experience in the field of book arts. I found her journey fascinating and especially loved her sentence, "In 1997 Michael and I had a son, Ezra. He currently eats books."

The introduction outlines basic tools, sizes, and terms that you need to know. After that Alisa provides step-by-step instructions and illustrations for making cut & folded books, simple sewn structures, simple adhesive structures, intermediate compound structures, multiple signatures or thick sewn books, Jacob's ladders, soft and hard covers, portfolios and boxes, easy ways of decorating paper, and portable books.

The cut and folded books section shows you how to make a hidden book, simple accordion, simple accordion with tunnel, twist card, house card, palm leaf book, venetian blind book, simple pop-up card, fan book, and slot & tab book.

In simple sewn structures we learn a few basics and then are shown how to make a ledger hanging book, utilize stick binding, make a side-bound book, utilize single signature binding, make a two-sewn-as-one book, and make a tea bag book.

With simple adhesive structures we learn about making a flower fold, album-flutterbook, concertina with tabs, endless accordion, tunnel book, accordion-fold book, circle accordion, hand scroll, and hanging scroll.

Intermediate compound structures introduces an accordion with signatures, pocket book, flag book, and piano hinge with skewers.

Multiple signatures or Thick Sewn Books shows you knots for multiple signatures, western multiple signatures, multiple signature onto a ribbon, exposed stitch, and chain stitch.

The Jacob's ladder section introduces two panel with (or without) cards, and a six-panel book with boards and ribbon.

Soft and hard covers introduces information on working with glue, soft wrap cover, open spine soft cover, open spine with ribbon, wrapped hard cover, hard covers, insetting a title, and backing cloth. Projects include covering separate boards, split boards, hard cover:side-bound, hard cover: single signature, hard cover:multiple signature, hard cover: with ribbon, hard cover: accordion/signature combination of hinged cover, and hard cover: ribbons at spine.

Portfolios and boxes shows you how to make a folded envelope, pocket folder, paper portfolio, painted slipcase, covered slipcase, hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie, hardcover portfolio with envelope pocket, postcard portfolio, two-piece box, and clamshell or presentation box.

Easy ways of decorating paper introduces you to stenciling, carving rubber stamps, and painting with acrylics.

All throughout her book Alisa takes you on a journey of her life and her creations. She also provides you with tips and how-to's she's learned based upon her experience. Her book is a filled to the brim with everything you need to know to create a handmade book.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making one of these elegant and romantic creations.

I haven't quite decided which book I'll choose for my grandchildren. Knowing me I'll probably choose several. Since I have no experience with book arts I think I'd better start at the beginning of Alisa's book and make my way to the back. By the time I finish following Alisa's step-by-step instructions I should have some wonderful heirlooms for my grandchildren.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

How About Some Fabric Covered Journals? Linda's Review of Fabric Art Journals by Pam Sussman


Several years ago I decided to make fabric covered journals for my twin granddaughters. They were in junior high school at the time and I wanted something a little different as one of their presents for Christmas that year. So, I decided to create the journals.

Foolishly I didn't take a picture of them, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed making them. They were nothing like the journals I'm about to tell you about. Mine were crudely covered three ring binders, but they were pretty all the same.

When I saw the book Fabric Art Journals: Making, Sewing, and Embellishing Journals from Cloth and Fibers (Quarry Book)  by Pam Sussman during bookstore shopping trip with my Mother it reminded me of the crude journals I had made so I decided to flip through it.

There is a quote from Pam Sussman on the back cover that says, "Fabric books simply beg to be touched and experienced through the hands as well as the eyes." I couldn't agree more.

I might add that sometimes the fabric journals become works of art all unto themselves and beg you to just look at them. Like other works of art - to touch them you might just ruin them.

Since I am a lover of anything made with fabric whether it is a bowl, a box, a quilted landscape, ATC's (artist trading cards), floral fashions, dolls, baskets, altered art, etc. I knew that I would like this book.

Pam's book covers the basics of creating fabric art journals and then embellishing them. It includes 8 projects - 3 for beginners, 3 for intermediate journal makers, and 2 with advance binding techniques. Templates for the 8 projects are found in the very back of the book.

In the section on the basics of fabric art journals you'll find information on fabric journal tools, fabric journals versus paper journals, hand sewing versus machine sewing, accurate measuring and cutting, pressing, choosing fabrics and thread, inner support, basic sewing stitches, and basic edge finishes. Basically, everything you need to know to try creating fabric art journals.

In the embellishments section you learn about tea-dyeing fabrics, painting fabrics, adding words to cloth pages, image transfers, applique, art quilting, easy embroidery, eyelets and other hardware, button, fancy edges, fancy closures, beads, and trims. Each page is filled with pictures and/or illustrations as well as how-to's or step-by-step instructions.

In the fabric book projects section Pam shows you with step-by-step illustrations how to make a muslin journal, concertina journal, button-bound book, tape bound journal, fabric-stitch journal, house box journal, coptic-bound journal, and dream journal.

Flipping through these sections I found myself thinking that I could make that or wouldn't that be a wonderful gift for so and so. I wanted to try all of them. Then again, if you know me, you know my desire to try everything and anything crafty is much larger than the constraints of time. I need to clone ME.

In the back of the book there is a Gallery chapter filled with pictures of fabric art journals created by other artists. They are all unbelievable and you really need to see them for yourself. The pictures are beautiful, but I'm sure they don't do some of these fabric art journals justice. They truly are works of art.

During this shopping trip after a while my Mother appeared and asked me what was taking me so long. I showed her the book I was looking at. She was intrigued and wanted to see some of the projects, too. We both loved them all and agreed that we should at least try making one or two, okay maybe three of them. The problem is how to choose. We love them all.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making a fabric art journal. I'm sure if you gave it to someone as a gift that it would become a family heirloom.

Of course, if I could clone myself I'd make all of the fabric art journals in this book and many, many more. They are just so unique and so pretty. Pretty little works of art.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Linda's Review of Origami Flowers by Hiromi Hayashi


Last time I was out shopping with my Mother at one of our local bookstores one book in particular caught my eye and I just had to buy it. It was called "Origami Flowers: Popular Blossoms and Creative Bouquets."

What drew me to this book was that it involved paper florals. Paper crafts and floral crafts. Not quilling, but still involving shaping paper to form floral bouquets. It couldn't get any better than that as far as I was concerned. Then again, I love everything. So, of course, I showed the book to my Mother. She was intrigued so we started to browse through it.

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that not only do I love dolls, doll making, crafts, and craft making, but I am also a floral designer. I love creating silk floral arrangements, pinecone baskets, dried floral arrangements, floral trees, just about anything floral. So, of course, paper floral bouquets piqued my curiosity. I suspect my Mother wasn't surprised by this.

"Qrigami Flowers" shows you how to take square origami paper and shape, bend, fold, and twist it into beautiful flowers. I was doubly thrilled when I looked down the list of flowers in the table of contents. My all time favorite natural flower was there - a dahlia. My sister and I have had a fascination with dahlia's since we were both little and love to grow them in our gardens.

In any event, 29 different types of flowers are shown including my second all time favorite flower - the Japanese Iris. Hiromi has included a rose, hyacinth, stock, tulip, carnation, violet, pansy, narcissus, dokudami, cineraria, polyanthus Primrose, gerbera, zinnia, Japanese iris, hollyhock, hydrangea, blue star, morning glory, begonia, sunflower, dahlia, clematis, lily, orchid, spray mum, cornflower, cosmos, balloon flower, and cyclamen.

The beginning of the book includes large colorful pictures of each floral creation. That is followed by definitions of origami symbols and shapes. Following this are the step-by-step instructions for creating each of the flowers. On paper it doesn't quite look as difficult as I'm sure it is. The instructions are very detailed and look like they'd be easy to follow. Hiromi also includes the paper supplies needed for each flower and any other materials that are required. Actual size leaf patterns are also included in the back of the book.

Besides the dahlia and Japanese iris I would like to try my hand at the violet, cineraria, zinnia, gerbera, sunflower, clematis, cornflower, and balloon flower. I just love the looks of each of them. Maybe I could get so good at creating paper floral creations that no one will be able to tell my paper floral creations from my real plants.

When I mentioned this to my Mother she just said, "Sure, honey." Translation - you can try it, but there is no way paper is ever going to look as good as the real thing. My Mother, of course, unlike me was born with a green thumb. She's had some of her plants for over 50 years.

So I said, "They might not be the real thing, but they sure would be colorful creations. And, best of all they are maintenance free. No watering, no fertilizing, no bug-spray. What could be better than that. Year round, maintenance free plants. I love it."

She said, "Just buy the book honey and let's go!" So I did.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Obsession With Paper? Or Quilling?

I suspect that I am not unlike a lot of crafter's out there. I love and want to try everything. The problem is there are not enough hours in the day to try everything I want to try. I literally could spend 24 hours every day and always be learning some new craft. Not practical I know, but one can dream.

Several years ago I made a Christmas present for my niece that involved quilling from a kit that I had bought. I had never heard of quilling and was intrigued by this kit and wanted to give it a try.

If you don't know what quilling is it is cutting, rolling and twisting paper to form decorative pieces. My particular present was a miniature garden picture (see photo above) where I cut and quilled the paper to look like various plants. I enclosed it in an 8x10 shadowbox to give it a three dimensional appearance. She loved it which certainly made me happy. Even my brother loved it - which is an accomplishment all unto itself.

In any event I became interested in paper and paper crafts from that point onward. This was just before paper, scrapbooking, and altered art became such a phenomenal success. When the latter happened I, of course, was thrilled as I loved seeing the hundreds of paper projects and availability of supplies that they were creating for the masses. I, of course, wanted to try everything, which I know would be impossible.

So, I decided to try another quilling project. This one involved quilling the paper to look like various types of herbs. It came out alright and I decided to enclose this one in an 8x10" frame with a solid blue mat.

From time to time when I'm out book shopping or browsing through the local craft stores I look to see if there are any books or kits on quilling. Most of the time there aren't any. Quilling still hasn't quite caught on here. I don't know why because paper crafts have become such a phenomenal success. I can't quite understand why quilling hasn't.

Who can resist learning how to decorate everything from jewelry to home accessories with quilling designs? Certainly not me.

I've got my eye on three quilling books for my wishlist. If I get them I'll be sure to write a review of them for you.

Maybe I've piqued your curiosity as to what quilling is. Maybe you'll give it a try. If you do please be sure to let us know how you liked it. I hope you find it as intriguing as I did.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Linda's Review of Creating Romantic Purses by Marilyn Green & Carole Cree



Creating Romantic Purses: Patterns & Instructions for Unique Handbags was a perfect choice for the 3rd book to be reviewed for books about handbags, purses, and totes as nothing could be more Victorian looking than romantic purses.

What drew me to this book, once again, was the picture of the two purses on the front cover. They are both romantic and Victorian looking in nature. And readers of my Linda's Blog know how I love anything and everything Victorian.

"Creating Romantic Purses" contains patterns and instructions for making 40 elegant creations that according to the book, "can be worn night and day." And, elegant they all are.

I was intrigued so I began to browse through this book. I didn't need to go any further than the first purse to know that I was going to love this book.

The first purse is in Chapter two which is entitled " Hold History In Your Hand" and is a crazy quilt purse from the Victorian era. History and the Victorian era - I was enthralled. This is definitely a purse that I want to make. It is a Victorian Vignette and is an exquisitely beautiful creation. And, of course, there is all the history surrounding it and Queen Victoria.

Each purse within the book contains information on the materials needed to make the purse, embellishments, patterns and instructions. The patterns and instructions are shown in detail in the back of the book as some of the same patterns and instructions are used to make several different purses in this book.

Flipping through this book I found purse after purse after purse that were just so beautiful to look at. Each and every one of them was a beautiful creation all unto it's own. Almost like masterpieces. I wanted them all. However, one can't make 40 different purses now can they? And, where would I store all of them? Knowing me I'd make them just to look at them.

In any event, I do have my favorites and they would be the "Victorian Vignette" on page 12, the "Timeless Classic" on page 22, "Polka Dance" on page 42, "Fringe Benefits" on page 44, "Tussy Mussy" on page 58, "Beaded Beauty" on page 60, and "Vintage Nosegay" on page 76.

Seven purses that I would love to make. That's not to say that I don't want to make all of them. I do. It's just you need to start somewhere and here is where I would start.

If you are looking for a challenge and looking for something that is truly unique then you should try your hand at making one of these elegant and romantic creations.

Of course, if I had my way I'd make all of these purses and all of the purses from the other two books I recently reviewed. Hundreds of purses. I can hear "hubby" now. "Where are you going to put all of those and where are you going that you would need them?" Ah, but one can dream. And, what's better than dreaming or inspiring to make such beautiful creations?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Linda's Review of Making Vintage Bags by Emma Brennan


Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses is a wonderful choice for the 2ND book to be reviewed in my handbags, purses, and totes craft book review.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was that it concerned vintage bags from the 1920's through the 1950's. According to Emma Brennan's foreword, "A handbag can make a statement as well as being a practical means of carrying your essential possessions around. This book gives you patterns and ideas for making your own special bag, influenced by vintage styles but perfect for modern living."

I couldn't agree more. Whenever I leave the house I am lost without my handbag. It is an essential part of me outside my home and when I am without it something just seems to be missing. The handbag I use all the time weighs a ton with all the stuff I have in it and my Mother is forever telling me to lighten the load. She thinks it's putting a dent in my shoulder and will cause me back problems down the road. Well, after 40 years of carrying around a bag I think I'm used to the weight. Besides whenever I go through my bag nothing is thrown out. Everything seems to be essential - or at least I think it's essential.

So, I always promise myself that I'm going to reduce some of the clutter so I can change bags more often and, maybe, carry some smaller bags. The bags of the 1920's to 1950's were definitely smaller and I would, indeed, need to reduce some of my essentials in order to utilize some of them.

They may have been smaller, but they were adorable and Emma's "Making Vintage Bags" is a wonderful pictorial for making 5 bags each from the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.

The beginning of the book is an introduction to the materials and techniques needed to make her bags. She starts with general information on basic stitches, fabrics to use, base materials, piece preparation, interfacing, handles, fasteners, magnetic snaps, lining, zip fasteners, making matching purses, embellishments, applique, and photo print bags.

The rest of the book is divided into 4 time periods starting with the 1920's with each era covering 5 bags to make. The 1920's has Clara - two tone art deco pocket bag, Lucille - mini evening bag with ribbon rose, Virginia - mini clutch with tassel and ribbon rose, Dorothy - asymmetric bow flap clutch bag, and Evelyn - asymmetric clutch with vintage buttons.

Each purse section contains step-by-step pictorials of constructing the purses, as well as materials needed, dimensions, suggested fabrics for the bag and the lining, and sewing tips. The actual pattern pieces for each bag are in the back of the book and need to be enlarged by 165% to use. I would have preferred for the pattern pieces to be actual size.

The 1930's has Doris - the handle bag with rose corsage, Nancy - ring handle bag with felt flower applique and matching purse, Lois - bag with draped buckle trim, Rita - pleat bag with silk rose trim, and Marion - semi-circle two-tone bag.

The 1940's has Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog, Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse, Grace - wool leaf applique bag, Patricia - autumn bow crescent bag, and Rose - nautical rose crescent bag.

The 1950's has Audrey - gathered bag with felt corsage, Vivien - small bowbelle bag, Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag, Peggy - striped bow bag with straight handle, and Gloria - picture bag with rope handle.

I just loved the fact that Emma named all her bags and I do have a few favorites that I would love to try. I love the adorable looking Doris - tie handle bag with rose corsage form the 1930's. She is just so "pretty" to look at.

I also love Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog from the 1940's. The reason for this one is a sentimental one. You see when I was a little girl I used to love to stand and look through all the clothes in my Mother's closet. Back then she had a genuine "poodle skirt" that I just loved. Of course, I was too small to wear it, but I wanted one when I was big enough to do so. This bag reminds me of those times.

I also happen to love Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse from the 1940's. The reason for this is I tend to favor anything tapestry. In fact, I used to have a tapestry blazer that I wore everywhere until it fell apart.

Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag is another one of my favorites. I'd love to make it just to look at it as I'm not sure it would be big enough to carry a lot of my "essentials." But, it sure is a cute looking bag.

Last, but not least, there's my favorite bag from this book. Her name is Gloria and she is a picture bag with a rope handle. The reason she is my favorite is because the bag is big enough to carry most of my "essentials" and because it contains a cut-out picture of a vintage shoe. And, I love shoes. Plus, I love the simple yet elegant designs of this bag.

If you love vintage bags and purses and would love to try your hand at making some then this book has a lot to offer you. I know that I would love to try my hand at a few, starting with Gloria. Now, if I could just find some more time......

Monday, September 10, 2007

Linda's Review of The Decorated Bag by Genevieve A. Sterbenz


I thought that I might start the review of handbag, purse, and totes books with The Decorated Bag: Creating Designer Handbags, Purses, and Totes Using Embellishments.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was the embellished purse on the front cover and then when I was flipping through the book all the pictorials caught my eye. If there is anything I love in a craft and craft making book it's pictorials. You might find this unusual for a crafter and a reader, but I hate to read the text. I'd much rather look at the pictures and follow them. Now that's not to say I don't read the text. I do if I have to, but I'd rather learn from the pictures. I suspect that I'm not the only one in that regard. I'm sure many, many crafters out there are the same way.

The Decorated Bag has 26 designs ranging from bejeweled evening bags to a Victorian Straw tote to an urban cowgirl saddle bag. There's a folkart bucket bag, Marabou mini bag, springtime pull string bag, girly weekender, mod print tote, and "Miss Kitty" tote. There's even a big-city bowling bag and Hollywood hatbox.

Don't forget the American beauty bag, the blue suede portfolio, tropical demi, blue-boots tote, and buttoned-up hobo bag. And, there's the swingtime shoulder bag, lush leopard hatbox, snow-flurry lipstick purse, and vintage rhinestone purse.

Last but not least, we have the midnight feather clutch, beaded ballerina bag, silver moon satin clutch, pave polka dot purse, tottenham tweed clutch and mini travel valise.

26 bags in total all with wonderful step-by-step pictorials. Some of my favorites were as follows:

1) Bejeweled Evening Bag - This bag just looks so pretty. I'd love to try and make it. Not only does this book tell you how to decorate the bag, it also gives you step-by-step pictorials for making the bag starting on page 114. The pattern is on page 128. Definitely one I want to try.

2) American Beauty Bag - I love to make ribbon flowers and this bag is right up my alley with its folded ribbon roses. It just looks so beautiful and so delicate. It would be a wonderful compliment to a fancy dress. Pictorial step-by-step instructions are given on page 34 and 35 for making all the ribbon roses.

3) Blue-Boots Tote - This bag takes a graphic from page 133 that you scan in to the computer and then re-size and print on transfer paper and then add to the patchwork toe. This method allows you to add any image you want, not just the image they have nicely provided.

There are patterns and instructions in the back of the book for making the bejeweled evening bag, urban cowgirl saddle bag, and springtime pull-string bag. There are also some illustrations and helpful tips for some of the other bags as well.

For all the rest of the bags "The Decorated Bag" provides you with the step-by-step pictorials for converting existing bags. Each bag has a section on materials needed to embellish it, tools required, what the featured bag is, as well as design tips, and a variation illustration.

If you love purses and love to embellish them then this is a great book. There is a lot of variety in the selection of the purses with one sure to please everyone.

I can hardly wait to start my bag. The only problem is which one to choose. There are so many that I just love.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Love Of Books About Purses and Handbags!

I know that you've heard me say that I love books about dolls and all different kinds of crafts. Usually it's some kind of floral craft or paper craft. Well, lately, I've found myself fascinated with books about making purses, handbags, totes, etc.

Why?

Who knows! It's today's crafting whim. Next week it might be something else.

But, with everything I do I want loads and loads of books about it so I can experiment. And, there are loads of books to choose from on the subject of purses, handbags, and totes.

Here's the three I chose:

1) The Decorated Bag: Creating Designer Handbags, Purses, and Totes Using Embellishments



2) Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses



3) Creating Romantic Purses: Patterns & Instructions for Unique Handbags



I could have bought more, but then I'd had to endure the looks from my Mother and my darling husband. Translation - "Don't you already have enough books!" Well, NO!!!!!!! One can NEVER have enough books as far as I'm concerned. Or dolls, or floral......the list goes on and on.

So, I thought my next three posts should be about the 3 purse books that I bought. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

The first ones looks like it might have some terrific patchwork purses in it and the second one is right up my alley. A history book of purses from the 1600's to 2005. If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know how I just love history books. So, if I get that book I'll be in heaven.

Don't worry. I'll post a review about them if I decide to buy them this year. That is, if I can do so without my Mother or darling husband finding out. Ya right, Linda! That's just about impossible. Hmmm...maybe not!