Booktopia Craft 
July 2009 | Edition One
Welcome, welcome to our very first edition of Booktopia's Craft Buzz! I am thrilled to bring this utterly delectable selection to you, a selection that has dyed itself in a multicoloured array, knitted itself into a quilted pattern, embroidered its edges with ribbon and lace and hung itself out to dry in the sun to be admired by passers by (namely you, Booktopia's craft readers!). Perhaps I've gotten a little carried away with the metaphor here but can you blame me? I'm excited about getting out of this office and going home to rip into some of these beauties with my trusty sewing machine!! (The knitting needles have already been out a week since I started writing).

The two highest on my agenda are Sock and Glove and Softies. This is mainly because my cousin is expecting and I am in the mood to make lovable and insane soft toys for the new little one to enjoy. There are also some amazing deals below on a beginners Embroidery book, the Complete Book of Scrapbooking and 101 Full Size Quilts. I have tried to include a little something for everyone, and you can direct yourself to most of the most popular crafts using the contents list to the right. For all those interested in combining history, literature and craft, don't go past Jane Austen's Sewing Box. Personal stories and Australian biographies can be found in It Keeps Me Sane..., or for a bit of classic craft-inspired fiction, try the Quilter's Apprentice.

I'll let you find the rest of the treasure on your own, happy making!

Karen Coleman
Booktopia Craft Editor

P.S. If there was anything you particularly liked in this newsletter, or wanted to see next time, please let me know! I would especially LOVE to see pictures of your creations inspired by the books from it!

Jennifer Forest

I cannot imagine a more finely realised combination of literature, history and artistic creation than is found in this book. Forest is intricate in her research, from the details of Regency period etiquette and fashion, to its relevance to and notation throughout Jane Austen's novels. Forest begins her book with two introductions, the first being of social history, placing Austen's heroines within their historical context. The second is a cultural and artistic history, of the materials and tools used in 'women's work' of the period. From this, Forest launches into a description of eighteen objects that were created and used everyday during the period, and how we can recreate them now. Using a range of techniques from sewing, embroidery, papercraft, knitting, netting and painting, Forest highlights the skill level of each of her tasks from beginner to advanced. Each project begins with a description of the historical and literary significance of the object, and stunningly coloured illustrations of period examples and uses. Forest also photographs her own creations, demonstrating a vision of the reader's final product. The step-by-step instructions for each project are clear and concise, providing material and tool check-lists, as well as diagrams along the way. The real pleasure is in matching your finished product to the quotes from Austen novels and feeling yourself dressed in, or holding a piece straight from Emma, Lizzie or Elinor's wardrobes. The books is pure delight, both to read and to create from, and will provide many hours of pleasure.

Click here to buy this book.



This is one of those craft books you start patting as you leaf through its pages and it increasingly seduces you with its colours, ideas and images. I am going to reverse this review, and start at the back first: the list of templates is outstanding! A good 50 pages of reinforced, glossy, colour cardboard ready to pop out like a sticker-book straight into your scrapbook projects, it is amazing value just for that. The book itself is a spiral bound hardcover, making for easy-open use (and tracing from the variety of alphabet templates). There are two sections on techniques, one on basics and the other on more complicated and developed skills. In the first section, some of the ideas are so inspired in their simplicity and effectiveness I cannot believe I haven't learnt them before - for example, squirting shaving foam into a shallow tray, applying ink to the surface in swirls over it, and carefully laying paper on top, to blot the paper with a colourful abstract design. The third section of the book elaborates on ten special projects, giving you a "knee-up" into ideas for greeting cards and gift tags, a chain of postcards, or photo album. It goes without saying, the design of this book is tailored with the care of the most delicate of scrapbooks, and reads with the same visual pleasure. If you love this book as much as I do, please email me to tell me! I would love to see pictures of your creations from it!

Click here to buy this book.
Material Obsession Two: Shared Inspiration

Kathy Doughty, Sarah Fielke

The first Material Obsession book generated such a storm in quilting and textile circles, and its sequel has been eagerly anticipated. The authors own a textiles store in Gladesville, Sydney, and have gained a cult following for their unique designs based on traditional techniques. In this second edition, the authors work in tandem, sharing single ideas or moments of inspiration to create two, separate, non-identical twins.  Each design is designed to be appropriated for a range of skill levels, using bold colours and dazzling patterns to appeal to quilters of all levels. Patterns, instructions and a  comprehensive basics section are accompanied by glorious photographs, making this book a wonderful source of inspiration.

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Book one is still available and would make a beautiful gift in combination with book two:

Material Obsession 1

Kathy Doughty, Sarah Fielke

This first book from the owners of the patchwork shop Material Obsession, shared the author's distinctive, colourful and contemporary designs. Aiming to convince everyone, even those who don't think they are creative, that they can produce artwork out of textiles, Doughty and Fielke teach their readers how to confidently choose colours and patterns for stunningly effective quilts. Their instructions focus on ease and speed, protecting an aspiring crafts person from the dangers of being too easily dissuaded! Like Material Obession 2, this first book also includes detailed instructions on the basics of patchwork and quilting.

Click here to browse inside this book.
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  Booktopia was able to ask Sarah Fielke, one of the authors of Material Obsession a few questions:

B: How did you begin quilting? What was it about the process that had you hooked? (no pun intended)

MO: I started quilting properly when I was about 12.  I started patch working when I was 6. My mum was a wonderful sewer who made me several quilts, and also made all my clothes when I was little. She taught me to sew on a tiny little sewing machine she bought for me, and I used to make patch worked covers and things for my dolls, and clothes for my Barbies. I didn't start quilting seriously until I was pregnant with my first child, and I decided that I needed pretty things for the nursery, and I couldn't find anything I liked. One thing led to another and the next thing I was teaching and selling quilts and other things I made.

B: What inspires you start a quilt? Where do you most often get your ideas for designs?

MO: Often my inspiration for quilts comes from some element of an antique quilt. Sometimes the fabric designs inspire me to start playing with colours and textures, moving things around until I have formulated something that works for me. And sometimes the designs just arrive in my head ready to go and fully formed, from somewhere unexplained.

B: You own and manage a quilting shop and classes in Sydney, what for you, is the best part of running this kind of business?

MO: I sold my share in Material Obsession six months ago, and I now am the Creative Director for a website called Sewn ( I have a great time writing about the quilting industry and showing other people what inspires me. I also have a blog which I love and which gives me great pleasure ( and I am writing another book with Murdoch Books, on my own this time!

B: Can you give us an example of one of your favourite quilts (that you either created, or helped someone else to create) and why you loved it so much?

MO: I think my favourite quilt at the moment is called The Maple Leaf Rag. It is in Material Obsession 2: Shared Inspiration. The reason I love this quilt is because it took me a long time to make it, and it confounded me for a while. I knew how to make it for me, but not how to make it so that everyone else could understand the instructions! The quilt is made to reflect the piece of music, Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. The music goes around and around in circles, and  the quilt does too. It's  made from thousands of scraps, some of which are from old quilts of mine, some from my stash and some from the quilts of my friends and students. I can hear the music when I look at the quilt, and it reminds me of all the people who gave me fabric to put into it.

B: What advice would you have for someone just starting to get interested  in taking up a hobby, such as quilting?

MO: It's been said before, but JUST DO IT! Don't wait for the quilting police to come knocking on your door if you make a mistake - half the fun of quilting is the experimenting to see where you end up. A hobby that you love can give such richness to your life, make the time for it and you will be rewarded.

B: What advice would you have for someone who is already addicted to the craft, but is looking for some new techniques or ideas to give their quilts and other creations a new flavour, or take them in a new direction?

MO: Don't be afraid to try something new. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Do buy quilting books and magazines. The only way to learn what you like is to see what other people are doing. It doesn't mean COPY what they are doing, just immerse yourself in other peoples colours, influences and patterns and you will soon find your own style begin to emerge. Join a quilt group if there is one near you, read some of  the fantastic quilting blogs that are out there and just enjoy and let yourself go.

B: Thank you.


Enza Gandolfo and Marty Grace

For anyone who is into biographies, Australian history, or - of course - craft, this book is ideal. Exploring the meaning of craftmaking in women's lives, the women in this book tell the stories of their lives through their various craft-making hobbies. None of the women featured are professional craftpersons, each of them uses their practice as an outlet, a form of release from the stresses of their everyday lives. The stories they have to tell are poignant and revealing of human nature, for example Angela Monitto's description of the salvation 'wool embroidery [provided] all those years ago because I was alone'. Newly married and living in an unfamiliar area in the 1990s, Angela found herself retrenched and an all-embracing hobby and the care of a new support community 'helped [her] through that period'. Each of the women in the book is pictured, alongside examples of their work inside their homes. The research was funded by Victoria University and Spotlight, finding that many women feel:

'If I get upset or stressed, I'll go and sew. It keeps you sane, it's relaxing and it's almost therapeutic really. I just know that when I've been sewing, I feel better.' Rae Fairweather

Click here to buy this book.


Tokoyo Sugiwaka

This quirky, vibrantly coloured craft book presents a menagerie of 16 uniquely crafted creatures using a variety of felting, embroidery, crochet, knitting and fabric painting techniques. Instructional photographs and precise directions make these projects achievable for crafters of all skill levels. Sugiwaka also weaves whimsical snippets of crafting philosophy into each creation and allows these little creatures to wriggle their way into your home and your heart. Pass Me a Smile includes baby booties, a knitted wolf in removable sheep's clothing, felted birdhouses, matching mother and puppy sausage dog draught stoppers, and a winking tortoiseshell cat tea cosy.

Toyoko Sugiwaka studied graphic design in Japan, and now works as a designer, writer and craft maker in Sydney. Her particular interests are felt and other textiles.

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Murdoch Books


This is one of the most useful beginners guides to embroidery I have seen on our shelves in a long time. The opening chapters are a comprehensive and diagrammatic explanation of fabrics, threads, needles, stitches,  designs and how best to use them in conjunction. Each of the twenty-three projects is accompanied by a short introduction on the history and use of the object, materials and tools needed and range of variations. The patterns and step-by-step instructions are augmented by photographs at various stages of creation - preventing the beginner from going too far astray from the plan! It is a genuine no-fuss approach to creating your own textile home wares and wardrobe accessories.

Click here to buy this book.


Better Homes and Gardens Books


This besteller has been reprinted due to popular demand - it is the ideal collection for anyone looking for a volume of straight quilting patterns. Spiral-bound, it can be laid on your work table, one full size pattern on the right and colour photos and instructions on the left. Within the range of 101 ideas, there is something for everyone, from figurative to abstract (my favourites are the Noah's Ark, Cherry Pie and Sunbonnet Sue - but I have always been swayed towards the representational - steering away from geometric abstracts or arabesques). The final chapter is purely on borders - providing one for every occasion, including the Christmas Wreath Border. The 'Quilting Basics' glossary at the back of the book is rather scant, but I doubt this would dissuade an experienced quilter, who will find a wealth of ideas in this book. The only warning I would issue is that all measurements are given in inches only (and there is a dismally patriotic Americana chapter) - though this is worth enduring for the Cat with a Curly Tail pattern alone.

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Gerval Olivier, translated by Sasha Wardell

This is essential reading for anyone interested in fashion design, or developing their own clothing line. An incredibly informative and practical guide, Olivier takes the reader on a journey from concept, drawing patterns, planning style, colour harmony, sewing the designs, and onto catalogue development, photo shoots and event planning for the launch fashion show. Every stage is comprehensively illustrated with drawings, photographs and screen projections for the software that enables designers to manipulate their work in a virtual world. The appendices detail equipment, a mini-dictionary of materials and machinery, glossary and fashion directory. Gerval is founder and director of the school of art and design in C-6-12 in Paris. He has developed a style of apprenticeship in response to the international demands of his profession and needs of young designers learning the ropes of that world.

Click here to buy this book.


Emma Baxter Wright with a foreword by Zandra Rhodes

A collection for your coffee table, this stunning 224 page hardcover tells the history of fashion from the 20th Century. The collections from each decade have been arranged as sources of inspiration, providing information on key trends, styles and distinctive indicators of influential designers such as Christian Dior, Zandra Rhodes and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Baxter Wright studied at Central St. Martins College of Art & Design and taught at the London College of Fashion, and the book also features articles from Karen Clarkson, Sarah Kennedy and Kate Mulvey. This host of veteran fashion writers asserts that "Vintage pieces not only capture a historical moment in time but in themselves can be works of absolute and unique beauty."

The photographs showcase fabrics, innovative techniques, silhouettes, shapes, and exquisite workmanship  emphasised through beautiful illustrations and fabric swatches.

The final chapters offer a care guide for vintage pieces, and glossary on fashion terms. In making history truly beautiful, this book will appeal to designers, cultural history buffs, and anyone interested in spicing up their personal style.

Click here to buy this book.
  CHICKS ON SPEED: It's a Project
Chicks on Speed Records

Chicks on Speed is a dance-pop band that emerged from Munich in the 1990s. It involved three art-school drop outs doing non-stop socially charged whimsy, tongue-in-cheek nihilism and calling it something like feminist disco-pop. The three suspects unleashing this insanity on us are Melissa Logan, from New York City, Alex Murray-Leslie, from Sydney and Kiki Morse, from Munich. They have also designed a clothing label, website and record label.

This is their first book and each page is crafted in their own handwriting. The chapters relate to periods of their lives (real and imagined): 'Fake Band', 'Pressing the Press' and 'Sell Out'.  Using die-cutting, over-printing and  a range of different papers this book reads like a scrapbook, littered with press clippings, personal mementos and printed ephemera picked up along the way. Packaged in a cloth bag, the edition includes a large poster, CD, unisex shift dress, and pattern for overalls.

The Chicks have invaded the fashion and music industries with their humour, but don't take my word for it: 'The best ever book type thing I've ever laid my eyes upon... the whole look, concept and execution are immaculate and make the viewer feel like the most important person in the world... a true piece of art' - Chicks on Speed, Senior Designer. Time Magazine also wrote of them as 'a smart, eminently danceable band' and Rolling Stone dubbed the team 'suddenly trendy'.

Click here to buy this book.

Vera Wang, photographed by Paolo Roversi

This book is one window into the amazing fashion empire Wang has built.  The depth of her knowledge on the subject astounds - and so you might expect for the world's most successful bridal gown designer. In this volume she shares the benefit of her experience on everything from the invitations to flowers and attendants - providing insights and visions that both inspire and guide.

The section on bridal gowns, is luxuriously intricate. Wang delves into the details of neckline, construction, length, bodice and waistline to suit every bride's figure, suitable fabrics for the time of day and season, choosing a headpiece... the list goes on.

Click here to see Wang's website.

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Ingrid Sischy

Donna Karan writes that she wants to 'nurture others, fulfil needs and solve problems. At the same time, the artist within me strives for beauty, both sensually and visually. So design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable'. She designs with flexibility in mind, since people never usually know 'where a day is going to take them... That’s why New York is on the label. It sets the pace, the attitude'.

Click here to browse Karan's website.

Click here to buy this book.
Sabrina Gschwandtner

Gshwandtner is a artist of film, video, photography, performance, sewing, crochet and - of course - knitting. In 2002, she founded KnitKnit, a limited edition craft journal that is now collected by the Museum of Modern Art and Harvard Collections. This book collects together stories from 27 of the most innovative and ground breaking knitters Gschwandtner could find, and the results are truly alive. It is amazing how diverse the medium of knitting can be for these artists. Some use it as a form of activism, others end up working for designers such as Louis Vuitton, some create larger-than-life installations and others spectacular sculptures. Included is also a guide to 'making your own Breast Cancer Awareness 3D tits' - other examples include a sweatshirt kimono, mohair and metal belt, pair of high-heeled boots, geodesic-patterned cap and teddy bear knit from fibreglass insulation. All are intended to inspire the reader to find their own creative path.

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  Margaret Hubert

This book provides 15 projects, with two patterns for each - one in knitting and the other in crochet. Perfect for anyone learning either or both techniques, the book gives the flexibility to the reader, allowing choice in how to get to the same final product. Spiral bound, the book can be used as a collection of patterns on the work table. For those whom Hubert terms 'bi-stitchual', she has aimed to highlight the differences and similarities of the techniques, so that when embarking on a project, the crafter can make better choices for the the integrity of their design.

Hubert teaches workshops and designs for yarn companies, book and magazine publishers including Crochet, Interweave Press, Quick and Easy Crochet, Crochet Fantasy, and Belle Armoire.

Click here to buy this book.
A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change Stitch by Stitch

Betsy Greer

This comprehensive discussion of knitting and its relevance to the post-feminist 21st Century is infinitely valuable. In it, women such as Greer, Cathy de la Cruz and Sally Fort discuss how they found knitting, how it empowered them whilst relaxing them, and how it came to express their values about the world.
In the first chapter, Greer introduces the social, political and historical paradigms she grappled with before embracing knitting as a power for feminism and social change. She provides examples from other women who grappled with the same issues, discovering that knitting has lost its perception as a grandmotherly craft, and is now embraced by new generations of young, socially and politically conscious crafters. Greer argues that every act of knitting is an opportunity to create positive change in ourselves, our community, and in the world. She collects patterns from her contributors and ideas for turning the pace down on our world, by benefiting charities or individuals and communities working towards worthwhile goals. This book will get you thinking about knitting in a whole new way.

Click here to buy this book.
  20 Hand-knit Designs for the New Baby

Erika Knight

Knight has written over 20 books on craft and design throughout her career as a design consultant to the fashion and yarn industries. Her interest in forecasting trends and why we decorate have led her to lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as well as a range of UK tertiary institutions.

In this book Knight collects together 20 designs for premium yarns as pure and natural as a newborn baby. The range encompasses first garments, blankets, cushions and toys, everything a newborn needs in its first months - the Teddy Bear with movable limbs and expressive face is particularly irresistible. The threads have been chosen for their inherent softness, animal fibres such as baby alpaca, cashmere and extra-fine merino are complemented by sustainable plant fibres that are breathable, comfortable and soft, The items would be perfect to keep you entertained in spare moments during baby's first months or to give as a loving gift at a baby shower.

Click here to buy this book.

Ribs & Bobbles, Ruffles, Flora, Fringes, Points & Scallops: The Essential Collection of More Than 200 Decorative Borders

Nicky Epstein

As a Knitwear designer, Epstein is revered for her range of groundbreaking, innovative designs and bestselling books. In this continuation of the Knitting On, Over and Beyond the Edge series, Epstein introduces her signature embellishments to a new technique. These 200 spectacular edgings, are accompanied with written instructions, charts and photographs that showcase them magnificently. Projects such as the adorable pink t-shirt demonstrate just how a little crocheting can transform something old and dusty from the wardrobe into an all new wearable work  of art. Epstein also uses this winning formula on a cape, hat band, bracelet and multicolour top.

Click here to browse Nicky Epstein's other books.

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Kari Cornell

The School of Essential Ingredients for crafters, this book collects short stories from crocheters of all ages and backgrounds. In doing so Cornell draws a picture of a craft that carries essential life themes, carrying people through difficult times, providing artistic expression, and sometimes just being a source of pride in the end creation. The people in these stories write about their memories, their lives, and their insights - as they revolve around moments of crochet - it is sure to be a heart-warmer for anyone who loves this craft.

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  Mary Beth Temple

A loving and humourous look at the life of crochet in our world. Temple's previous book, The Secret Language of Knitters, made waves in the yarn world for its down-to-earth and hilarious approach to demystifying all the finer terms of the industry. In Hooked, Temple writes a series of essays and handful of patterns that provide an insight into the modern crocheters' world. Including a very brief history of crochet and guide to business for the aspiring professional crafter, this book straddles that wonderful line between providing enough hilarity amongst a wash of useful information.

Click here to buy this book.
Apart from the selection here, don't go past our beginners guide to Embroidery in our lead titles.

 MADE IN FRANCE: Linen and Thread

Monique Lyonnet

An easy way into embroidery, this book guides the reader through nine simple projects, using only a variety of stitching techniques. Each project is designed for an existing object - the idea being that you can pick up a tablecloth, napkin, or tote bag from around the house or a discount store - and add your own personal embellishments. Using only a minimal number of colours, there  is little confusion and only a small initial investment as you pick up this 'potential hobby'. Each project comes with full page grids and photographs to ensure easy sailing from start to finish.

NB: This book is due for release from the publisher in September. Click here to pre-order.

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Maggie Grey

In the digital age, finding ways to enhance the creative arts through technology is one of those mysterious areas of potentially exponential growth. Grey attempts to navigate some of these murky waters for textile artists who wish to take an image, drawing, painting, digital photograph, computer design or photocopy and turn it into embroidery or other piece of textile art. Specifically writing to those with limited drawing skills, this book focuses on using computers, digital cameras, tracing paper and printers to produce your image in a mixed-media format. Using only software and techniques found on basic pc's and digital cameras, Grey writes easy-to-follow instructions where no technical knowledge is required. The book offers a range of inspirational ideas including bangles, panels, books, bags and vessels offering textile artists new processes to expand their creative practice.

Click here to buy this book.
A World Guide to Traditional Patterns

Sheila Paine

An anthropological guide to global embroidery, this book is a stunning visual and historical collection of the symbolic meaning that costume plays in culture.
Paine is a world expert on embroidery and tribal cultures, and has published widely, including The Embroiderers' Guild journal. What astounds about this collection is the diversity of materials and interpretations Paine is able to represent: Turkish napkin borders, Ghanaian patchwork banners, Egyptian head shawls, Moroccan cushion covers, Hungarian sheepskin jerkins, Slovakian bed curtains, Panamanian molas, Peruvian Nasca textiles... all are depicted in vibrant colour with accompanying drawings and maps. Paine's focus is to examine the symbolic meaning of the embroidery and its relation to religion and tradition. A fascinating and beautiful study of humanity and our desire to represent our beliefs in images.

Click here to buy this book.

Mary Fernald, Eileen Shenton

If you're planning a fancy-dress party or need a costume for the kids' local theatre production, this practical and informative guidebook is essential. Beginning with a brief overview of style for the last 1200 years, scaled patterns will allow you to create everything from short tunics for Saxon men of the fifth century to a lady's bustle dress of the late 1800s. Some sewing experience is required, such as knowledge of appropriate modern fabrics, ability to fit patterns to your size and understanding of stitches.

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End Those What-To-Wear Woes!

Christine Haynes

This book is the do-re-me of sewing: it starts at the very beginning and (dare I write it?) fills your wardrobe with the sound of music! Starting with 'an introduction to sewing', and progressing with a selection of patterns for each of the seasons, Haynes’ design is colourful and clear, as she dishes out encouraging advice. Her designs are both classic and modern - or as Sue Daly of the Renegade Craft Fair has put it, 'cute to boot!'

Haynes explains choosing fabrics, controlling the cut to suit your size, and tailoring one pattern into up to 20 individual garments. Designs include a classic shift, A-line skirt, figure-flattering wrap dress, and Indian Summer Dress.

Click here to see inside this book.

Click here to buy this book.
  Simon Henry with a foreword by Andrew Fionda

This books offers up a no-brains-necessary approach to creating your own patterns for that most cherished and useful of garments in a woman's wardrobe - the Little Black Dress. Henry's easy to grasp method, though I haven't yet tried it, seems fail-safe. Using a dress form, the designs are custom-fitted to complement your own body shape. The book begins with an introduction to materials and sewing techniques as well as a history of  the LBD including Racquel Welch, the Duchess of Windsor, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana - to name a few. Henry offers three basic classic styles to work from: a chic shift, a stylish wraparound and an elegant strapless cocktail dress, with jacket and hat to match. This book is a must have for anyone really interested in designing their own wardrobe.

Click here to buy this book.
Mary Engelbreit

Engelbreit knows how to bring out the utter bunny-like aborabilty of anything - from pot holders to pillowcases. In this hardcover, spiral bound book, she features 26 of her most irresistible projects for home décor, baby accessories, kitchen and dining accessories. As an added bonus, a simple sewing primer is included with all the basics necessary for a budding seamstress, and full-size patterns are tucked into the inside cover pocket.

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  Dorling Kindersley

Did you ever use those kid's diagrammatic encyclopaedias of cooking? If you remember what I'm thinking of you will remember their intensely choreographed relation between photographs and text used to  explain techniques, new methods and skills. And just think of how very many times you have been reading the instructions on a new craft technique and wished they had explained, or diagrammed that better.  Then be thankful this very complete guide to sewing techniques now exists - our search is over.

Click here to buy this book.
  Marie Claire

Pulled straight from the pages of on the French magazine, Marie Claire Idées, this collection of 45 designs  has never before been seen in English speaking countries. The range of styles are traditional, vintage, and contemporary from string shopping bags, a laundry organiser, armchair caddy, delicate evening bags, kids' storage totes and tidy bags for the bathroom, kitchen, and garden. Clear, step-by-step instructions with photos are geared towards appliqué, beading, crochet, embroidery, knitting, patchwork and sewing.

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Chad Alice Hagen, Jorie Johnson

Hagen and Johnson are two of felting's most respected artists and in this collaboration they encourage others to think about their clothing as works of art. Choosing scarves as an easy first project, Hagen and Johnson focus on the rich colours, forms, and visual appeal that can be achieved. 20 spectacular boas, wraps, shawls, and stoles can be created out of their easy-to-follow instructions, helpful how-to photos, and templates, when needed. The standouts include a scarf with lacy designs snipped onto the felt surface, a wrap inspired by the delicate hues in Monet’s water lily paintings and a pretty dip-dye novelty yarn party scarf.

Click here to see Hagen's website.

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  India Flint

Flint is an experimental artist who works with dyes and costumes to represent the various messages she has to convey about our environment, sustainability, history and - even - feminism. In this book she draws on two decades of experience with natural dyes to present an in-depth handbook of ecologically sustainable plant dye methods using renewable resources, most of them found in the back garden. Projects range from the simplest imaginable (solar dyeing, in which the fabric and dye material are placed in a closed jar and left for a few weeks in a sunny spot) to the intriguingly romantic (dyeing with 'ice-flowers'). The result is an exciting buffet of creative potential with the least possible harm to the environment and the dyer.

Click here to see Flint's website.

Click here to buy this book.

Other than the selection featured here, don't miss our featured book, 101 Full-Size Quilt Blocks.


Jennifer Chiaverini

This bestselling series of novels is now up to it's thirteenth  title, each stemming from a group of characters or theme involved with the quilters of Elm Creek Manor - the place where this circle of friends spends time together learning about quilting and making quilts. Master quilter Sylvia Compson centres around most of the novels, as she invites various people to join her at her family's Manor. From the first novel, The Quilter's Apprentice, she asks Sarah McClure, to help her sort through many years worth of family possessions. Included in those possessions are her many handmade quilts, each possessing their own histories, which fascinate Sarah - who has moved to the small town with her husband in search of a fresh start. The initially reclusive and cantankerous older woman gradually opens up to Sarah, forcing her to confront uncomfortable truths about her own family. As the two gradually form an unlikely friendship, they teach each other deep lessons about family, friendship, forgiveness - and creating life as you would a quilt: with time, love, and patience.

Click here to buy The Quilter's Apprentice.

The Quilter's Homecoming is the tenth novel in the series but is also one of my favourites - set in the roaring twenties.

Click here to see a book trailer for The Quilter's Homecoming.

Click here to buy the Quilter's Homecoming.

The authors of the series have also released pattern books for the designs of quilts featured in the novels. Each pattern comes full-size with complete instructions and chapters on quilting basics.

Click here to buy Elm Creek Quilts.

Click here to buy More Elm Creek Quilts.

Click here to browse all the titles in the Elm Creek Quilter's series. The titles were written in the following order (but stand alone and can be read in any order):

    * The Quilter's Apprentice (1999)
    * Round Robin (2000)
    * The Cross-Country Quilters (2001)
    * The Runaway Quilt (2002)
    * The Quilter's Legacy (2003)
    * The Master Quilter (2004)
    * The Sugar Camp Quilt (2005)
    * The Christmas Quilt (2005)
    * Circle of Quilters (2006)
    * The Quilter's Homecoming (2007)
    * The New Year's Quilt (2007)
    * The Winding Ways Quilt (2008)
    * The Quilter's Kitchen (2008)

Martha Sielman

This book has been outstripping other bestsellers in more usual categories, recognised for its unusual combination of beauty and innovation. Sielman curates a collection of artists from across the globe — including Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America — displaying their work of varying sensibilities, backgrounds, and talents. Noriko Endo's forests draw on a pointillist tradition, while Susan Shie's pieces are reminiscent of Lynda Barry in the density of image and hand-lettered words. Pamela Allen recycles beads, safety pins and sewing machine bobbins in Crone of Crazy and Wendy Huhn's surrealist dreamscapes include vintage fabrics and stencilled images. While it's sometimes difficult to see all the texture of these quilts, the wealth of colour and pattern in the photographs is sure to inspire any devoted quilter to higher aspirations in their art. A word of warning to beginners, this book does not feature any instructions or patterns, it is not intended as a 'how-to' manual, rather, it is intended as a showcase of the world's finest quilting artists.

Click here to see Sielman's gallery of art quilts.

Click here to buy this book

Yvonne Kulagowski


In this book, Kulagowski considers design and aesthetics, offering practical advice about choosing metals and materials, techniques, and using different tools and equipment. She discusses earrings in terms of fashion shows, performances and exhibitions - introducing important earring designers and including lists of further reading and other useful sources. Kulagowski argues that eccentricity, original thinking, the use of unusual materials are now incentives to wear jewellery as opposed to just the suggestion of wealth and value of a precious stone. Simple stud, hanging and complex two part drop earrings are explained, clarifying design and technical decisions whilst sharing valuable 'tips'. Illustrated throughout with the work of international jewellers, the book also serves as an inspiring reference for experienced makers.

Yvonne Kulagowski ran her own fashion jewellery business for fifteen years before shifting her focus to writing and lecturing at Central St Martins College of Art and Design and Camberwell College of Arts, London.

Click here to buy this book.
Modern metal jewellery to make at home

Victoria Tillotson

Tillotson teaches at the New York School of Visual Arts, and is host of, the first broadband channel devoted to jewellery making and trends. She has developed a unique, funky style that will appeal to young designers and those who who love to feel 'adorned'. In this book she walks her readers through every step of metalwork, from making simple hammered wire earrings to rings set with stones. Even the most advanced pieces don't require tools any more complicated than a crème brûlée torch (and usually you can make do with wire cutters, pliers, a hammer, and a file). Using copper, silver, gold or brass, this book is perfect for anyone who already loves jewellery making and is seeking a new challenge with some heavy metals.

Click here to see Tillotson's website.

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Susie Johns

Johns is one of those people who seems to be able to excel at anything she tries her hand at. She has written numerous books on knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery - and here - jewellery making. This book is fun, quirky and colourful,
showcasing street-chic baubles made from materials found around the house such buttons, ribbons, and safety pins. This might sound a bit 'hill-billy' until you see an image like that of "Hidden Message" necklace with beads made from rolled fragments of text and plastic bangles personalised with decoupage motifs. I am convinced, these are very funky ideas, and Johns promises me that the techniques are simple, crafting is quick and easy, and wearing the finished product creates a sensation!

Click here to see an image from this book.

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  Plastic & Resin Techniques, Projects, Inspiration

Debra Adelson

Adelson prides herself on a colourful collection of jewellery, where each piece has been harmonised in form, balance and composition. She works entirely with plastic and resin, and as a new entry in the popular Art of Jewellery series, her book has been written to be an  introduction to the major techniques, providing insight into contemporary artists', practice and showcasing an array of inspirational works. The basics on hard plastics, from sawing and drilling to joining, constructing, and laminating, are provided in detail, as are the ins-and-outs of resin, including mixing, curing, adding inclusions, finishing, and more. Photo demonstrations are provided and 22 innovative projects will get you started - from the dramatic Turbine Bangle and funky free form ring in candy-coloured plastic to an exotic necklace made of straws.

Click here to browse Adelson's website.

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Karen Woods


This book is a colourful resource for both teachers and parents looking for ways to entertain their kids. Aimed at children of primary school age and up, it presents a series of workshops which progressively build confidence with techniques and materials, encouraging the child to engage with more challenging ideas once they understand the usefulness and relevance of the skills they have already acquired. The projects move from simple 2-D designs up to more complex 3-D forms. The series of happy hats, featuring regal crowns, a legionnaire's helmet and dinosaur skull cap promises a particularly hilarious afternoon. Woods is an established textile artist and painter, with 13 years' experience as a crafts teacher for schools and behavioural problems or special needs groups. She has also run textile and sculpture workshops for a variety of young peoples' groups, schools and community mental health centres.

Click here to buy this book.
Fun Projects for You and Your Toddler

Rosie Hankin

Using just paper, glue, glitter, paint, tape and one or two other left over items from around the house (such as a paper plate, or a toilet roll) - this book will help you keep those terrible twos entertained for many an afternoon. The book is sorted by theme: "Sea Creatures" - featuring for instance, a starfish and crab, "Farm  Animals" and "Cars, Trains and Planes". Both you and the little one will gain a real sense of achievement in creating these beauties - the child for his or her masterpiece and you for the ease in which you whiled away a happy afternoon. Extension activities are also included so older children can join the fun.

Click here to buy this book.
  Paper & Cardboard Projects for Kids

Green Tiger Press

A collection of do-it-yourself projects drawn from old books and magazines for children six and older. Based on the premise that "modern life requires of us too little creativity; that living in a world where everything is done and made for you has disadvantages as well as advantages... Most of us are deprived of the deep satisfactions which come from making things with our hands." Lofty aspirations for a kids craft book! But none-the-less noble, and thankfully none of the projects require special equipment or extraordinary skill. Projects include a clown riding on the back of a giraffe, a tiny merry-go-round, a paper May basket, a little house with cardboard inhabitants and handmade greeting cards.

Click here to buy this book.

Monika Krumbach

All sorts of clay is available from discount art stores these days - air drying, polymer (for firing in the average kitchen oven) and good old kiln style - just to name a few. Whatever your budget or access to facilities, clay is wonderful way to get kids thinking three-dimensionally, and who's going to say no to getting messy? This guide ranges from kindergarten through to high school age projects and can be done in the classroom or during free time. Create animal jars, toothbrush holders, cups with real character, or a three-dimensional mountain puzzle, among many others. Best of all, the projects do not require any previous pottery training on the part of the adult! Krumbach is a ceramicist who has taught pottery courses and workshops for many years. She has previously also written on ceramics.

Click here to buy this book.
22 Friends for You to Sew

It seems in the big bad GFC we have turned to a few more traditional methods of acquiring entertainment for the kids, as the introduction to Softies attests: "Home-made designer soft toys are all the rage. All you have to do is type 'softies' into a search engine, and you'll find yourself knee-deep in the blogs of thousands of crafters and artists sharing and selling their inspiring creations online". I have to say, doing the research for these books I can't disagree. What sets these quirky ones apart are their utter funkiness - fresh, full of personality, they look positively chic. With just needle, thread, and some scraps of vintage fabric, each unique toy comes to life from a detailed pattern, step-by-step instructions, and tips and tricks for 'creating character'. There's also a glossary for all those craft virgins to get their first taste on these fantastic little creatures.

Click here to see a sample pattern from this book.

Click here to see an album of softies inspired by the book.

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  Books for Kids to Make

Gwen Diehn

Diehn wants books to carry the author's message through its very being. For example, a "book of poems about flying that has pop-ups that fly up off the pages may be more interesting than a book of poems about flying that has ordinary flat pages." Diehn works project-by-project, explaining the realisation of an idea, such as a museum book that unfolds to give the reader the feeling of walking through a museum. As she explains how to achieve this, she describes all the necessary bookmaking techniques. This means that if you're looking for a certain technique, you'll have to depend on the index - but if you're looking for inspiration to you or your child's creativity - this is the source. Diehn has already written four successful craft books for kids, her target age-group in this book is 8 to 14.  Full colour images and how-to illustrations accompany each project.

Click here to buy this book.
Modern Explorations of the Human Form

Lark Books

This book features a range of artists' creations in five sections: Non-Traditional Dolls, Fantasy Dolls, Found Objects, Assemblages, and Toys, Traditional Dolls, and Cloth Dolls. Akira Blount, provides a brief history on the evolution of dolls, before the book launches into a worldwide tour of artists and their techniques. Traditional, surrealist, abstract, representational, magical and found object styles are explored using every conceivable material. Printed on beautiful glossy paper with luscious colours, the photographs are lit in a museum catalogue manner. The details of each of these handmade wonders could be studied for hours.

Click here to buy this book.
  Sarah Lawrence

The author of Wild Women features twenty easy-to-make figures using similar techniques to make a diverse range of designs. Using anything, from paper, wood, wire, threads, beads and baubles - Lawrence provides alternatives to encourage her readers to take on their own creative licence and create unique figures.

Sarah Lawrence spent ten years as a secondary school teacher of art and textiles in Yorkshire. She later studied Creative Embroidery, and continues to exhibit her own work widely, lecturing, giving demonstrations, conducting workshops and undertaking commissions.

Click here to buy this book.
Ray Slater

Cloth dolls are the perfect exploratory medium for both beginner and advanced textile artists. In this book Slater presents the basic principles and techniques of doll making so that readers can transfer their work into a three-dimensional format. Patterns, from the simplest stump doll to the more complicated jointed doll, give practical guidance, accompanied by details such as needle-sculpting expressive faces. Step-by-step instructions are provided for beading, hand embroidery, machine embroidery, stamping, dyeing and felting (ideal for hair!) and how best to use them for doll-making. The perfect marriage of modern textile art with traditional doll making, this book inspires exploration and development in the 'fabricing' of these very special little figures.

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  Miyako Kanamori

Sock and Glove presents thirteen delightful projects that are quick to make, and certain to amuse and delight. Full of individuality and mischief, these stuffed creatures are all pieced together from ordinary socks, gloves and mittens. Step-by-step illustrations and instructions make it easy to craft and dress a whole menagerie, including monkeys, elephants, piglets, bunnies and even an insouciant fish. Endearing to adults and children alike, these whimsical creatures make perfect gifts and inspiring companions.

To see the Simple Sparrow blog review of this book, click here.

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In This Issue

Unforgettable Books
Material Obsession
Featured Books
Great Deals
Beautiful Design Books
With Kids
Toys & Dolls
Selling Like Hot Cakes
Clay & Pottery


July Booktopia Buzz
July Romance Buzz
June SF & Fantasy Buzz
May Food & Drink Buzz




Loani Prior

Prior has a beautiful sense of humour and absolutely no pretension in this seemingly completely insane idea for a book. Flicking through Wild Tea Cosies, it is easy to see how this knitter from Queensland has become a bestseller. I can't think of a better word, the creations she offers are WILD - in the true hippy sense of the word. Adorn your teapot with 'Coral Fantasy', 'Carmen Miranda' or 'Red Comet' using clear instructions provided for every step of the way, from cast on, to off. Prior also provides handy information for beginners on the mysteries of knitting techniques, such as in the round, using double-pointed needles, and identifying the wrong side.

Booktopia was lucky enough to ask Prior a few questions about making tea cosies:

B: Why did you start making tea cosies?
LP: It was a Christmas show off. There is a point in every grown up family where everybody really does have everything they need and the present giving becomes a bit perfunctory. I thought to liven things up. I started making the same present (but personalised) for each member of the family. The first year it was crazy coat hangers, the next year it was embarrassing photos hand framed. Then faux fur throw cushions.
All the presents were wrapped exactly the same as each other, handed out for opening at the same time with everyone oohing and aahing and comparing and laughing. It became a sort of performance art.
The year I did tea cosies? That was the last year of the Crazy Aunt presents. I haven’t wanted to make anything else since.

B: Where do you get your ideas from?

LP: Everywhere.  Sometimes it is as simple as a colour shouting out to me “Knit ME.  Knit ME!”  Sometimes voluminous, curvaceous shapes want to be knitted.  Much more so in book number two – REALLY Wild Tea Cosies – to be released in March 2010. I have just now sent the manuscript off to the publisher and we will photograph 20 new designs at the end of the month. They really ARE wilder than the first bunch. I have become more game, more sculptural, more critical, and more discerning I think.
There just aren’t enough tea cosies in the world.
B: How do you turn a concept in your mind into a physical tea cosy? Do you make practice tea cosies? How do you decide which method to use?

TP: Sometimes I make practice tea cosies. Prototypes.  They don’t start out being prototypes.  They start out being the real thing. They only turn into prototypes when they go horribly wrong. Sometimes I make drawings.  Very bad drawings but they are good enough to record an idea until I can get to it to knit up.   Sometimes I go to bed dreaming about how to manifest a design idea and I wake up with the answer. I know.  Sad hey.
B: How would you encourage others to let their tea cosy imaginations run wild?

TP: At the time this article goes to print, I will be in freezing cold Mittagong at the Sturt Contemporary Craft centre giving a Wild Knitting workshop as part of their Winter School.  Many knitterly people just aren’t game to leave the safety of a pattern. Knitterly people with years of experience and excellent technical skills, cringe at the idea of designing something themselves. Tea cosies are the ideal garments to go wild on. My advice?  Be game. That’s all.  Have a go. Try things out. You can always pull it out or toss it aside for another idea.
And have a look around you. Art students are not just encouraged to look at other people’s work, they are expected to devour it. I am of the mind that there really isn’t any such thing as a new idea, just an infinite number of variations. Anyway.  Tea POTS are very accommodating.  They aren’t about to complain if a cosy isn’t quite right are they? They will love and wear it day in and day out whatever you make for them.
B: What’s the craziest tea cosy you’ve ever made?

TP: The last one.  You’ll have to wait and see.

B: Can anyone really make tea cosies?

TP: Of course.  They can be as simple or as tricky as you like. They make fabulous gifts you know. Gifts that last many lifetimes.  Some people have brought their own old tea cosies to book events, for me to admire. They want to tell me their tea cosy story, which is never about the tea cosy and always about a much-loved grandmother or a best friend. I love that about tea cosies.
Prior has stated that one of her life goals is to to die with a stash of wool in her cupboard, bigger by far than every other woman's. She is adamant that a good pot of tea is a well dressed pot of tea.

Click here to see a pattern from this book.

Click here to see another.

Click here to buy this book.


Pip Lincolne

This bestseller has been sold out for weeks and has just become available again. At the risk of sounding like I'm selling carpets on TV, get it while you can!

Lincoln owns one of Melbourne's most loved craft stores, Meet Me at Mike's. In this collection she brings to life 25 sewing, knitting, crochet, collage and screenprinting projects that will brighten up anyone's day.

Click here to see inside this book.

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Tom Gourdie

This introduction to calligraphy is divided into fourteen stages, guiding the reader from the most basic styles of lettering up to complicated template designs for embroidery and certificates. Gourdie advises on the best use of materials, posture and gestural styles - warning of the common traps to avoid. He also provides diagrams with steps numbered in order of brush stroke to follow.

Click here to buy this book.

Apart from selling books, we also have a stunning range of books on the art of creating books! Two of my favourites are listed below, in particular 500 Handmade Books comes from the extremely elegant '500 Handmade' series from which it is also worth checking out 500 Handmade Dolls.
500 HANDMADE BOOKS: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form
Des Cowley, Clare Williamson


These are just a few of our fabulous papercraft books. Don't miss, the wonderful Complete Book of Creative Scrapbooking in our lead titles.

Marion Elliot
Marie Claire

Katherine Dewey
Susan Peterson, Jan Peterson


Annabelle Ruston

If you're starting to get really serious about your craft practice you might be ready for this book. Ruston is extremely thorough and practical in her approach to turning creative pursuits into a viable business venture and her advice from record keeping and client lists to approaching galleries and drawing up contracts is infinitely valuable.

Click here to buy this book.

Lucia Mauro
Debbie Hartsog
Annabelle Ruston