Book Chat · Craft Chat

Craft Book Library

You know I love lists.  And books.  So book lists are a favorite too, of course.

I have a box of crafty books parked in the living room, mostly because they were sitting untouched on the bookshelves in an unwieldy tower and it’s much easier to get ahold of them in a separate tub.  Plus inspiration usually strikes when I’m on the computer or at the sewing machine or just sitting on the couch.  I’ve steadily added to my little craft library over the past couple years, although thankfully it hasn’t gotten out of hand (yet).  Probably because crafty-type books are usually more expensive and bigger, so I try to resist buying too many.  I love every single one of these books!

The Amateur Librarian // Craft Library

Below is my catalogue of books, grouped by Craft, with a few thoughts about why I love each book.  And a couple (or more) books that are on my Wish List… I haven’t tested them out, but they sure are tempting.


Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update and Show Your House Some Love, by Sherry and John Petersik

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

The ultimate DIY book for DIY newbies.  I love the happy colorful style of the YHL blog and it translated beautifully to their book.  One of these days I’ll get my hands on a house or at least a bigger apartment and put some of these ideas to good use.  In the meantime I’ve made some art inspired by ideas #X and #X, and they were both really easy and fun!


Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists, by Jenny Doh

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

A brand new book I gave myself for Christmas.  I’m working through the book trying out all the different doodling ideas – great exercise in creativity and very inspiring!


Kids Knitting, by Melanie Falick

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

This is the book that taught me to knit.  I had a friend in middle school who helped me get the rhythm and troubleshoot, and this book carried me the rest of the way.  I’ve returned to it every couple years when I need a refresher – since it’s written for kids, the bright illustrations and clear directions are great for learning something new!

Knitting for Peace, by Betty Christiansen

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I found this beautiful book when I was first learning to knit in high school.  Projects range from blankets to hats to socks, with specific charities highlighted where finished projects can be donated.  I haven’t knitted in quite a while, but I still enjoy flipping through this book every once in a while.

The Workshop Book of Knitting, by Ursula Wartburg

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I inherited a bunch of knitting supplies and children’s books when my grandma moved to  a smaller home when I was in college, and this retired library book was among them.  The “workshop” method is different from the traditional way, and probably fell out of style after the 70’s because then you have to “relearn” how to read standard patterns.  But when I tried a couple projects in college, it did seem pretty intuitive and I love the vintage illustrations and photographs, so this is a keeper!


Cross-Stitch Samplers, by Better Homes and Gardens

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I found this book by Better Homes & Gardens at a thrift store with some friends over the holidays.  Some of the projects are dated or too traditional for my taste, but I like the fact that you can mix and match almost everything to create your own sampler.   The background information was pretty helpful too – for instance, I never realized that samplers were created as a resource the motifs or letters that were used to embroider other household items – like a personal catalogue of sorts.  It makes sense but I never thought of it that way, and something about that just tickles my fancy.  I also learned that fair isle knitting patterns translate to cross stitch easily, so they can be a source of more ideas.  Fun inspiration.

Doodle Stitching, by Aimee Ray

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I bought this book on our honeymoon while we were browsing a book store in New York City, so it will always have a special place in my collection.   The whimsical doodle style is really fun (Aimee Ray is actually featured in Craft-a-Doodle too!) and there is a wide range of beginner  project ideas for embroidery.

A Rainbow of Stitches, by Agnes Delage-Calvet, Anne Sohier-Fournel, Muriel Brunet, and Francoise Ritz

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

It took me some time to appreciate this book, but now I consider it a fun and valuable resource for cross stitch and embroidery ideas.  I bought it after it was recommended on a favorite blog but it wasn’t quite what I expected and I was thrown off because there are no step-by-step projects included.  I’m feeling more confident in my stitching skills after a couple years so I can appreciate the wide variety of options in all the colors of the rainbow.  But if you expected concrete project ideas, it can feel overwhelming on first glance.


Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee, by Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I bought this book last Christmas after much deliberation, and I enjoy it but have some qualms.  I thought there would be more of a narrative about the twelve different quilters in the Virtual Bee, but other than a bio on each quilter there wasn’t much tying them all together.  The quilts were nice, but many of them verged on the “too-modern” aesthetic for my tastes.  I like improvisational piecing and a certain amount of wonkiness, but I start to lose patience when the design is too intentionally “primitive.”  (Soap box side note: The quilts of Gee’s Bend, for example, are beautiful in part because they were created from actual scraps of fabric not bought solely for decorative reasons.  But all the Virtual Bee members have oodles of fabric at their fingertips, and the homespun look starts to feel forced.)  I’m still glad this book is in my collection, but I wish I had checked it out from the library first.

Christmas Quilts from Hopscotch: Warm and Cozy, Merry and Bright, by Heather Willms and Elissa Willms

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I can’t for the life of me remember where I found this book, but every holiday season I take it out and plan all sorts of projects.  The “country” aesthetic isn’t really my taste but a change in fabric choice could completely change the look.  I haven’t actually made anything yet, but there’s always next year…

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views, by Cherri House

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

A sweet family friend sent this my way when I was going through my health woes in 2011 (along with a couple fiction books that were a great escape… The Magician, by Lev Grossman will always be a favorite for getting me through a not-fun time in life).  I haven’t attempted any of the quilts, but from time to time I still like to page through for inspiration and even pull some fabrics that might become a quilt one day.  The quilts are modern, gender neutral, with lots of dark solids, and all evocative of city life.

Crazy Shortcut Quilts: Quilt as You Go and Finish in Half the Time, by Marguerita McManus and Sarah Raffuse

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

One of the first quilting books I ever bought, and used to make my very first completely finished quilt.  The quilt-as-you-go method was perfect for a beginner, and using the decorative stitches on the machine was a great learning experience.  Once you learn the technique, you don’t really need a bunch of examples, but as a complete beginner I appreciated all the directions.

Dare to be Square Quilting, by Boo Davis

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I love the playful designs and beginner-friendly straight lines.  I haven’t made any quilts from this book but I’m always tempted to try one, or maybe even try to downsize some of them into mini or lap size quilts.

Encyclopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns, by Leisure Arts

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I went through a phase where I wanted to make really intricate, traditional quilt blocks.  That urge has mostly passed, but I found this book while I was still hankering after a big resource book.  The blocks are pretty complicated and very traditional – even down to the color schemes and lack of precut-friendly measurements.  Good resource but not really my “style,” which I’m still figuring out.

Patchwork  and Quilting, by Better Homes and Gardens

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I also found this book at the same thrift store as the Cross Stitch Samplers book over the holidays.  I love the bright crazy colors and the ‘70s décor featured throughout the book.  Some projects are pretty dated, but there are definitely some gems.  Unfortunately the instructions are practically foreign to me, with hardly any step-by-step pictures and some very vague language.  So this book is definitely for inspiration only.

Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts, by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

My mama sent me this book and I was a bit intimidated by it at first… I don’t know how to free motion quilt so all those modern quilts with negative space scared me… but when I took a closer look, I loved how the basic techniques are organized by blocks and then demonstrated in a couple different quilts.  I ended up using some of the new techniques in a quilt last year (the Modern Wedding quilt) and was really pleased with the look, thanks to this book!

Word Play Quilts: Easy Techniques from the UnRuly Quilter, by Tonya Ricucci

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I love, love, love this book!  The go-for-it attitude is great, with lots of clear instructions and ideas.  I tried the wonky words in quite a few quilts last year and had so much fun experimenting with the technique.  I loved setting aside the ruler and rotary cutter and not worrying about precise measurements – this is one of my favorite books to inspire just-plain-fun sewing!


Heather Ross Prints, by Heather Ross

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I just added this book to my collection – gotta love spending those Christmas gift cards!  Heather Ross is another celebrity fabric designer whose fabrics I’m obsessed with… from afar.  All her fabric lines sell out immediately and then get hocked on eBay for outrageous prices… so I don’t actually own any.  But I love to look, and this book has great project ideas for any fabric.  I especially love that the projects include home décor, clothes, and other ideas in addition to quilts.  The best part is the DVD that’s included with a selection of Heather Ross prints to use in the suggested projects or for any other project.  So cool!  So far, I’ve enjoyed ogling each page but who knows, one of these days I just might try something.

New Dress a Day: The Utimate DIY Guide to Creating Fashion Dos from Thrift-Store Don’ts, by Marisa Lynch

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I love the New Dress a Day blog, and the book is great too.  Step-by-step instructions show how to alter any thrifted outfit into something new and custom tailored.  I have a couple ill-fitting clothes in mind that could definitely use some alterations, but I keep putting it off.  Another item on the To-Craft list!

Wish List

NeedleworkAnna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook, by Anna Maria Horner

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I love Anna Maria Horner’s use of vibrant colors and crazy prints, although I’ve only admired her fabrics from afar.  She’s one of the celebrity fabric designers that’s a bit intimidating to me, and somehow needlework seems more accessible.  One of these days…


Quilt Improv: Incredible Quilts from Everyday Inspirations, by Lucie Summers

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I’ve only dabbled a little in improvisational quilting, although I prefer not to go too “wonky”… then it starts looking like the “primitive” country style that seems like it’s trying too hard… but this book seems full of useful information for exploring improv quilting with a modern quilt aesthetic.

A Month of Sundays – Family, Friends, Food & Quilts: Slow Down & Sew – 16 Projects, Precut Friendly, by Cheryl Arkison.

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I really enjoyed Sunday Morning Quilts, co-written by Cheryl Arkison, although I felt like some of the instructions were hard to follow (which is why I checked it out from the library but didn’t end up buying it).  I’d love to see more of the same type of quilt ideas, and the combination of personal stories and recipes is appealing too!

Quilting Happiness: Projects, Inspiration, and Ideas to Make Quilting More Joyful , by Diane Gilleland and Christina Lane

The Amateur Library // Craft Book Library

I’ve heard great things about this book in blogland – simple projects combined with exercises to cultivate joy in the quilting process.  Sounds right up my alley!

So those are the books currently in my crafting library!  Any recommendations?

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