This month is all about pumpkin lattes, Halloween costumes, and vibrant fall leaves, but it’s also when crafty people start looking ahead to the winter holidays. If you’re planning to create or make gifts by hand this year, now is the time to get cracking! Additionally, the Christmas and winter themed books that will be in short supply after Thanksgiving are abundant in October, so you are much more likely to find something inspiring when you stop by DPL.
The Art of Gift Wrapping: No matter what’s inside the package, thoughtful gift wrapping always makes it much more special. Instead of last-resort gift bags and tissue paper, check out this book for ideas and detailed instructions on innovative and lovely gift wrapping techniques.
Classic Crafts and Recipes for the Holidays: For timeless and sophisticated (and decidedly not “beginner”) DIY decorating, Martha Stewart’s books are the way to go. This particular one includes directions for some stunning outdoor-only ice decorations as well as decadent holiday recipes and some very creative uses for velvet.
Knitted Gifts and Holiday Knits each include the instructions for quite a few lovely knitting projects that are sure to please anyone on your gift list, from Christmas stockings to baby booties, cable-knit hats and mittens and decorative ornaments. All projects include photos and patterns. Easy for experienced knitters, but not out of reach for beginners either.
Did you know about air plants?! Sounds kinda sci-fi, doesn’t it! Also known as an epiphyte, air plants get their nutrients from the surrounding air and thus do not need roots. Cool! They kind of remind me of a miniature, land-dwelling octopus or Thing from the Addams Family. Now here did I learn about these awesome plants? From Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello, Kate Bryant, & Kate Baldwin!
I always thought that Terrariums were very difficult to upkeep and required intense calculations to maintain their delicate ecosystems, but Terrarium Craft has since convinced me that Terrariums are my new super laid-back, always stylish best friends. In fact, according to Amy, Kate & Kate, I don’t even have to put living plants in my terrariums if I don’t want to–I could use pretty sands, rocks, crystals, and dried flowers to make super lovely displays. However, they make even the plant terrariums seem easy by using moss balls, air plants, succulents and other easy care plants and arranging them with sweet figurines, geodes, books and costume jewelry to create little whimsical, fairytale-like scenes. I want to live in their terrariums, but, until I find a shrinking raygun, I will just check out Terrarium Craft from the library and make one of my own. It will totally have a geode and an air plant and will be based on that classic Ringo Starr hit, Octopus’s Garden.
It may be 100 billion degrees outside at the moment, but Chrismas is just six months away! If you’re a crafter and plan to make gifts for friends and family this year (and those are the best gifts by far), then you know you need to get started now – if you haven’t already. Here are some new craft books to inspire you.
Fa La La La Felt: 45 Handmade Holiday Decorations by Amanda Carestio
The Feisty Stitcher: Sewing Projects with Attitude by Susan Wasinger
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts by Martha Stewart
30-Minute Necklaces: 60 Quick and Creative Projects for Jewelers by Marthe LeVan
Making Handmade Books: 100 Plus Bindings, Structures and Forms by Alisa Golden
The World of Geekcraft: Step-by-Step Instructions for 25 Super-Cool Craft Projects by Susan Beal and Jay B. Sauceda is one of my favorite new craftbooks. What really sets this book apart from the other zillion hip craft books on the shelf is the wide variety of crafts (it’s about time a craft book included fuse beads!) and the cool extras such as the craft designer’s own websites and inserted text explaining the stories behind the geekiness.
Have I made anything from this craftbook? Nope.
Have I still checked it out from the library multiple times? Yes.
And do I really really hope that someday I will make something from it? YES!
Here are a few of the things I wish to make:
•Coraline Mystery Sewing Box by Susan Beal
•Oregon Trail Cross-stitch by John Lohman
•Buffy Fuse Bead Portrait by Shayne Rioux
Some of my other favorite geeky craft books are the The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton and The Muppets Big Book of Crafts by the Muppet Workshop
Filled with beautiful photos, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking by Jane Brocket is not just for quilters – anyone will be able to find ample inspiration in the designs, colors and presentation of these glorious quilts.
Ideal for beginners as well as more experience quilters, instructions are given for 15 quilts and emphasize simplicity. Descriptions are clear and written in a chatty and encouraging tone. These quilts are more European in style; many take full advantage of the lovely large floral fabrics that are becoming more popular, and have a softer, less defined overall look and feel than many traditional American patchwork quilts. They are undeniably lovely.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book though, is the design and inspiration process that Brocket takes us through for each quilt. The author shows us what has inspired a particular quilt – a favorite summer dress, flowers from the garden, a backyard hammock, tiles from Lisbon or a shawl from Russia – and then demonstrates how she translates this starting point into a quilt. Besides the usual section on how to make a quilt, Brocket lists favorite inspirations – books, shops, blogs, museums – and gives valuable insight on how to translate your vision into a finished object to be loved and cherished.
Hey crafters! Have you finished making gifts for the coming Christmas season? No? But you’ve started them, right? Um – do you at least know what you’re going to make for the lucky people on your list? Oh dear – Christmas is just a little over three months away – you need to get busy! Here’s some great new crafting titles to help you out.
Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson – Alicia’s new book is just as fun and charming as her popular blog Posy Gets Cozy. Clear instructions for a variety of lovely projects, with personal stories sprinkled throughout (including the adventures of Clover Meadow, Alicia’s corgi), you’ll be reaching for needle and thread in no time.
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts by Martha Stewart – Martha sets the standard – highest quality workmanship and precise directions covering a wide range of techniques and skills.
More Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson – The first title (Last Minute Knitted Gifts) created a sensation in the knitting world with several of the patterns in it becoming iconic; you can expect the same from this one. The patterns are simple yet sophisticated and modern and cover a range of moods and wishes. One note of caution – your idea of “last minute” and Joelle’s idea might not be the same!
One Ball Knits: Gifts by Fatema Habibur-Rahman – Here’s a great way to use up some of that leftover yarn you might have hiding in a closet. A nice variety of fun and useful projects for everyone from babies to grandparents make this a go-to source. And who wouldn’t love to receive a warm pair of slippers this winter?
Simply Sublime Gifts by Jodi Kahn – Whimsical yet stylish, these crafts are fun, inexpensive and quick to make; many require no sewing. Ideas range from baby onsies to fabric notecards to the amazing Wonder Bread wrapper apron shown on the cover.
Feeling a bit of cabin fever, but still a little too chilly and damp for an outdoor excursion? Distract yourself from that restless feeling with an afternoon of crafting. With the help of Decorating with Papercraft, you’ll not only have fun, you’ll end up with something beautiful – and it’s ecologically friendly to boot!
This slim craft book contains a treasure-trove of ideas, from papier mache bowls to lamp shades to boxes and journals. You can indulge in some lovely new papers from the craft store (maybe to make the charming cartons shown on the cover of the book) or use materials at hand – yesterday’s newspaper into paper flowers perhaps? The crafts are fun and cheerful – a mobile of airplanes made out of maps, giant, 3-dimensional snowflakes for the mantel – and are useful or decorative (or both). Most of the projects are reasonably doable, with clear instructions and easy-to-find supplies and only require an hour or two to complete. Keeping cabin fever at bay has never been so fun.
Embroidery too delicate and precious for you? Uninterested in the gentle art of scrapbooking or quilting? Stamp collecting a bit too tame? Then have we got the craft book for you!
Ready, Set, Weld! by Kimberli Matin is an excellent introduction to the craft and art of welding for fun and creativity. These are beginner friendly projects filled with practical and whimsical objects for your home and garden. There are artistic frames, garden stakes, small tables, candle holders, decorative screens, funky chairs and benches. The designs are a combination of Modern Art and Industrial with clean, simple lines.
Matin uses a combination of found objects (there is a section on searching scrapyards) and premade parts such as those manufactured for railings and gates. Half the fun is looking at an ordinary object and seeing it’s potential for something else, a skill the Matin encourages. She also clearly explains the basics – the tools you’ll need, safety guidelines, basic techniques. Throughout she is friendly and practical and above all, can-do. You’ll be inspired to follow her example and pick-up a welding gun. And after all, what’s cooler than practicing a craft that has you using a MIG welding gun, an angle grinder and shielded helmet? Awesome.
If your idea of paper crafts stops at safety scissors and Elmer’s glue, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Whimsical, sophisticated, playful and beautiful describe the paper crafts found in Home, Paper, Scissors by Patricia Zapata and will open your eyes to the many possibilities of papercraft.
Take those bright-colored bowls on the cover of the book – they’re quick and easy (and fun!) to create, using colored paper from your paper shredder, a solution of glue and water and a bowl for a mold. You’ll find a variety of projects from a fanciful, fluttery mobile, to placemats to tealight covers. There are also several innovative and attractive boxes to hold everything from favors to stationary to gifts. Decorative and useful, from craft to art, you’ll never look at paper quite the same again.
No, we’re not trying to push the start of the Christmas season even earlier than it already is (Halloween is plenty early) We’re just reminding all crafters out there that if you’re going to make any presents this year, the best time to start making them is now. Handmade gifts are probably the nicest, most thoughtful gifts you can give, but they take time. Here are some great resources for ideas and inspiration.
Closely Knit: Handmade Gifts for the Ones You Love by Hannah Fettig
Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Soule
Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts by Martha Stewart
Bag Bazaar: 25 Stylish Bags to Make in an Afternoon by Megan Avery
Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase by Suzanne Tourtillot