Books on Textile History and Culture

This is my final post on reviewing the books in my craft library and it covers the history of textiles; the regional variations throughout the world; and a few specialist books on particular areas (South-East and Central Asia); the spiritual aspects of textiles; and special time periods (Arts and Crafts Textiles). Firstly, two excellent general books on textile history!

Women’s Work: The First 20, 000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber 1994

A fascinating book, looking at the history of textiles and the important role of women in its production from the Upper Paleolithic world (40 000 BC to 10 000BC, 5000 BC in some places) through the Neolithic Era; and the Bronze, Copper and Iron Ages to Ancient Egypt and Greece up to 500 BC.

While most textiles are highly perishable, knowledge has been gained from :

Archaeological discoveries:

eg Fossilized string found in Lascaux, France dated to 15 000 BC; and a needle netted linen bag with a stone button from Israel dated 6500 BC, thought to be a ceremonial hat and the world’s oldest preserved clothing;

eg Golden and silver spindles found in Early Bronze Age burial sites  at Alaca Höyük, Central Turkey);

Depictions on ancient artefacts, paintings and pottery:

eg Voluptuous stone Venus figurines wearing string skirts 20 000 years old;  Assyrian clay tablets from 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, recording accounts and letters of entrepreneurial women with their own weaving businesses; Tomb friezes from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt ( 2150 -1800 BC) showing men spinning cord and laundering and women spinning thread and weaving; and the depiction of women weaving together on a warp-weighted loom on a Greek vase from 560 BC, depicted on the book cover);

References in mythology, folk tales and literature:

eg Homer’s Iliad, which describes Hera’s girdle, fashioned with a hundred tassels, and Aphrodite’s special girdle);

Ethnological evidence from traditionally produced textiles and folk costumes:

eg  Mordvin, Walachin, Macedonian and Albanian peasant aprons and skirts; and

 Documented history.

It examines the Neolithic string revolution (snares, nets and cloth); the development of spinning and weaving; the creation of clothing without cutting and wasting precious cloth (togas, chitons, tunics, plaid skirts); the use of textiles as royal gift exchanges; technological developments like the loom; the changing roles of women through history; and everyday life in ancient societies.BlogTextile History40%IMG_0048

5000 Years of Textiles Edited by Jennifer Harris 1993/ 2004

Far less ambitious in scope, covering only 5000 years as opposed to 20 000 years of textile history, this comprehensive book was written by 24 experts in their specialist textile fields and produced by the British Museum Press, in association with the Whitworth Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum, showcasing many historical textile items (from the ancient world through to the modern day) in their respective collections.

The introduction discusses the perishability of textiles; early archaeological textile finds from Ancient Egyptian burial tombs (Pharaonic plain linen; Romano-Egyptian decorated wool and linen up to 12 AD; and imported Persian and Syrian silks); felts from the frozen tombs of Central Asian nomadic chieftains; and the clothing of Scandinavian bog bodies; ancient trading routes and their influence on textile design; and the role and function of textiles in society (social rank and status; gender; family lineage and clan identity; symbolism; diplomacy and royal patronage; major life events-births, weddings and funerals; and social, economic and religious functions).

The book is divided into sections:

Survey of the main textile techniques: Weaving; Tapestry; Rug Weaving; Embroidery; Lace making; Dyeing and Printing; Knitting; Netting, Knitting and Crochet; and Felt and Bark Cloth.

Each section describes the history of the technique, the main tools and technological advances, and basic components and techniques and are illustrated by photographs of many historical textiles; production tools and artisans in action; depictions on ancient vases and in ancient manuscripts and paintings; and explanatory diagrams.

Survey of World Textiles:

Ancient World of the Eastern Mediterranean: Fibres and dyes; the earliest textiles and early trade; Ancient Egypt, the Hellenistic Kingdoms of Classical Greece; the Ancient Roman period and Coptic textiles;

Central and Northern Europe: the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age, and the Vikings;

Western Europe: Sicilian and Italian silks (1300 to 1900); Spanish silks (712 AD to early 18th century); French silks (1650 to 1800); Figured linen damasks of the Netherlands (16th to 18th centuries); Tapestry, embroidery, lace and printed textiles;

Central and Eastern Europe (1800-1920);

Greece, the Greek Islands and Albania;

Near and Middle East: Sassanian textiles (Persia); Early Islamic textiles; Byzantine silks; Safavid Iran; the Ottoman Empire; and Palestinian embroidery;

Central Asia : Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Tadzhikistan; Kirghizia; Kazakhstan; North-Eastern Iran and Northern Afghanistan;

India and Pakistan and the tribal textiles of Central India;

Carpets of the Middle and Far East;

Far East: China, Japan and South East Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, the Hill tribes, the Philippines, and Indonesia and Malaysia);

The Americas: Colonial North America (1700s to 1990s); Native North America; Latin America (Pre-Hispanic textiles of Meso-America and South America; Post-conquest and contemporary textiles in Central and South America: Mexico, Guatemala; the Cuna Indians of Panama and South America;

Africa:

North Africa: gold and silk embroidery, wool embroidery, appliqué and weaving; and

Sub-Saharan Africa and offshore islands: West Africa, the equatorial forest, Eastern Africa and Madagascar.

There is a glossary of textile terms and an extensive bibliography at the back of the book for further reading. This is indeed a wonderful summary of world textiles and the only area, which was not covered in great detail was Oceania, although there was brief mention of tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree in the ‘Felt and Bark Cloth’ chapter of the first section.

Extensively researched, it is quite a scholarly and academic book, whereas the next few books are more a pictorial feast!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0049Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics and Patterns by Catherine Legrand 2008/2012

Illustrated with over 700 wonderful colour photographs of ethnic costumes, sumptuous fabric and tribal people from all over the world, this beautiful book is divided into six main areas:

Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, South-East Asia: Hmong tunics and the skirt of 1000 pleats; indigo blues and batik; embroidery and appliqué; tassels and pompoms; trimmings and ornaments; and baskets and bags;

Orissa, Rajastan and Gujarat, India: Cotton saris; block printing; mud and indigo; mirrorwork embroidery; saris, veils and turbans; jewellery and henna;

Mexico and Guatemala, Central America: Indigo; Mayan skirts; Jaspe; shawls, bundles and bags, wool; Huipil flowers and stripes; green Ixil women; traditional mens’ clothing and Lake Atitlán;

Kuna Archipelago, Panama, Central America: Mola and reverse appliqué;

Maramures and Bukovina, Romania: Peasant blouses; haymaking, spinning and felting; and seasonal activities; and

Benin, West Africa: Indigo and cotton; stars, spots and stripes; wax prints and fancy prints.

This is a fabulous book, not just for textile collectors and historians, but also for travellers, who are interested in remote locations off the beaten track and serves as a wonderful source of inspiration for textile and fashion designers. It is also a wonderful photographic record of cultural differences and practices in a rapidly shrinking and increasingly global world.

I adored the skirt of a thousand pleats, worn by the Flowered Hmong- in fact, it was one of the lusted after-purchases I was talked out of on my first trip to Europe in early married life, which I have always regretted, but which taught me a valuable lesson in sticking to my guns if I really wanted something!!!

I also loved the colourful harlequin appliqué of the Lolo, Vietnam; the Hmong reverse appliqué spiral patterns;  huipil floral embroidery;  the reverse appliqué ‘mola’ of the Kuna women in Panama; and the frilled Romanian peasant blouses and smocks, as well as their wonderful floral embroidery.

All the different styles of ethnic clothing are just so interesting, especially the symbolism behind them and I loved reading about all the processes involved with the production of traditional textiles from harvesting, weaving and garment assembly to dyeing (batik, indigo, block printing, silkscreen, tie-dyeing), embroidery and appliqué.

I learnt about breeding silkworms for silk production, Ikat weaving; the different techniques throughout the world for dyeing with indigo; the huge variation in the symbolic meanings of textiles and a huge number of different ethnic groups, which were new to me like the Ixil women of the Acul region of Guatemala, near Nebaj.

I would love to have written this book and visited all the wonderful locations and peoples! I cannot recommend this gorgeous book highly enough!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0050Another wonderful guide to world textiles is the not surprisingly and very appropriately-titled:

World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques by John Gillow and Bryan Sentence 1999

It has a different format and approach to the previous book, focusing more on the different types of textiles and techniques rather than their geographical area, making it an excellent companion, which adds to our knowledge of textile history and production.  The display of fabrics from many different areas side by side serves as a basis for comparison and furthering a greater understanding of the techniques involved and an increased awareness of the diversity in stylistic interpretations. Like the previous book, it is also lavishly illustrated with over 778 illustrations, 551 in colour and explanatory diagrams.

The introduction defines textiles and discusses their history, the first fabrics, textile decoration, spinning yarn and traditional textiles.

Chapters include:

Materials: Skin and hide; wool and hair; felt; woollen yarn; cotton; silk; bark; linen; other bast fibres like hibiscus, jute, nettle, ramie, milkweed and hemp; raphia and other leaf fibres like palms, yuccas, agave, rice straw and grass, as well as their function, purpose and use and their production and techniques.

Non-Loom Textiles: Netting, linking and looping; knitting and crochet, including textured and multi-coloured knitting; braids; sprang; macramé; ply-splitting; lace (bobbin and needle lace and tatting); and twining and wrapping;

Loom-Woven Textiles: Tabby weave; twill and tartan; satin weave; tapestry weave; warp-faced and weft-faced weave; damask; supplementary warps and wefts (continuous and discontinuous); brocade; strip weave; double weave; velvet, velveteen, corduroy and other pile cloths; and tablet weaving. I found this chapter particularly interesting and informative, as I have always been a bit mystified by all the different types of woven techniques and did not know much about damask, brocade or velvet production;

Painted and Printed Textiles: Daubed textiles (mud, earth pigments and leaf paints); painted textiles; penwork; woodblock printing (monochrome and polychrome); and stencilling;

Dyes: Substansive and adjective dyes; natural and synthetic aniline dyes; indigo; tie-dye; stitched resist; Rajasthani leheria and mothara; starch-resist (hand and stencilled); wax resist (Chinese knife; Javanese batik canting; and cap printing); mordant techniques (Central Asian woodblock printing; Kalamkari; and Ajrakh); warp and weft Ikat; and compound and double Ikat;

Sewing: Appliqué and reverse appliqué; molas; leather and felt appliqué; braid and ribbon work; patchwork; quilting; padded and stuffed work (stumpwork; Native American whimsies and kalagas from Myanmar);

Embroidery: All the different stitches and their techniques, uses, distribution and variations and styles: Running stitch; satin and surface satin stitches; chain stitch and variations; cross stitch; herringbone stitch; couching and Bokhara couching; blanket, buttonhole and eyelet stitch, French and Pekin knots; drawn-thread and pulled-thread work; needle weaving; whitework; needlepoint; smocking; and tambour work; and finally,

Embellishment and its role and use in social identity; magic and superstition and even just for ornamentation and vanity: Metal thread; mirrors; coins and sequins; shells; bead embroidery and bead weaving; feathers; porcupine quills; ephemera (natural objects including flowers, seeds and insect wings; and magical protection); and fringes and tassels.

There is just so much information in this book and the authors have done a stirling job organising it and making it all comprehensible.

In the back is a glossary of textile terms; lists of further reading on materials; techniques; history and world textiles; and a list of museums and collections, a wonderful source of further knowledge and inspiration! Another book I could not do without!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0051Another interesting book in my craft library, with more personal stories of craftswomen in developing countries is:

In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing The World by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle 2000

Written in their individual voices and featuring 90 indigenous craftswomen in 28 villages in 12 different countries over four continents, this book examines their daily lives, aspirations, families and communities, craft cooperatives and use of craft to create better futures for themselves and future generations. Along the way, we learn more about their cultures and their different craft and textile traditions and techniques. The text is supported by wonderful photos of the craftswomen and their families;  their villages and environment; and their work and crafts.

Chapters are divided into:

Latin America: Bolivia (knitting); Guatemala (weaving); Peru (pottery and arpillera); and Panama molas;

Eastern Europe: Poland (Flower painting); and Czech Republic (Easter egg painting);

Africa: South Africa (Ndebele beadwork and Zulu basket weaving); and Zimbabwe (Weya artists); and

Asia: Turkey (dollmaking and rug weaving); Indonesia (Floral offerings and batik); Thailand (Hill tribe craftswomen and AIDS project); and India (mirror embroidery).

In the back are suggestions for ways in which the reader can help support and enhance the craftswomen’s efforts to improve their lives.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0047

Next are a few books on the textiles of specific regions, including Central and South-East Asia, both notable for their beautiful textiles.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0044

I have already featured Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christina Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004 in my post on traditional embroidery (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/21/books-on-hand-embroidery-part-three-traditional-and-contemporary-embroidery/), but another excellent book on the same region is:

Traditional Textiles of Central Asia by Janet Harvey 1996

I have always been fascinated by the history and romance of the Silk Road and the interchange of goods, ideas, peoples and religions between the east and the west along its varying routes and times.

Central Asia covers a large proportion of this area from the Danube River to the Pacific shores, bordered on the north by the forested taiga and to the south by the high plateaux running from the Balkans to Tibet and the Chinese plains. From the first millennium BC to the 4th century AD, luxury goods like spices, gems and silks were transported from the Far East to the  west and were exchanged for fine muslins, woollens and glass from India and Europe to China.

Beautifully coloured silks, fragments of rich tapestry work, embroidery, pile carpets and coarse fabrics in felts and wools over 2000 years old were found in ancient burial sites in the Tarim Basin by Sir Aurel Stein in the early 20th century.

I adore the colourful Kyrgyz shyrdaks (patchwork appliqué felt floor rug) used by Central Asian nomads to furnish their yurts, in fact they formed the basis of my first year major project in my Diploma of Textile Art. (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/).

The simplicity and compactness of living in a yurt and the light environmental footprint and interest of travel and different home grounds of the nomadic lifestyle also appeal to me. And I love reading about symbolism and myths and the ceremonial and cultural aspects of different peoples, so this book appealed on so many levels!

It is divided into four different sections:

History and Motifs: Nomads and settled peoples; trade routes; Jenghis Khan and his legacy; decorative motifs; foreign influences; and traditional motifs and their significance;

Materials and Dyes: Wool; silk; cotton; and dye sources and dyeing;

Felts, Weavings and Dress: Nomad felts; nomad, village and urban woven fabrics; looms; flat weaves; knotted pile; decorative finishings; knitting and crochet; cotton weaving; Ikat silk weaving; traditional dress; and bags, covers, hangings and animal trappings; and

Applied Decoration: Embroidery; nomad, village and urban traditions; and block printing and fabric painting.

It is a beautiful book with over 200 colour plates of sumptuous silks and velvets; exquisite embroideries; stunning felts and woollen fabrics; and fine cotton weaves produced throughout the area and lots of fascinating information about the historical background; mythology and symbolism; materials and dyeing, block printing and fabric painting; and nomadic furnishings, culture and daily life. I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

In the back is a glossary; further reading lists on Central Asian history and textiles; motifs used in textile decoration; materials and dyes; yarn construction; felt; and applied decoration; and a list of museums and galleries.

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Textiles of South-East Asia by Angela Thompson 2007

An equally comprehensive and detailed book, but featuring the rich textile traditions of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Spice islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, this book examines the differences and similarities between the different areas, as well as the historic and mercantile links, which have forged them together. The author compares the costumes, weaving and techniques of each country and discusses the underlying symbolic meanings of their designs, which are woven or imprinted into the cloth.

Chapters include:

Historical Background: From the indigenous neolithic peoples of mainland South-East Asia and the establishment of early cultures; different languages, migrations, political and military alliances and gift exchanges and tributary systems; and the influence of topography and the great river systems; to a brief summary of each country; and a discussion of the influence of international trade, including spices, cotton and silk; European  colonization and expansion; the aftermath of the Second World War; and modern trends.

Symbolism, Pattern and Design: Importance of symbols in denoting rank/ status and allegiance; rites of passage and religion; the prohibition of royal symbols and pattern; a brief discussion of the different religious beliefs and history; mythology (creation myths, island myths and fertility myths); auspicious motifs, magic talismans and protective amulets; the different motifs and their symbolism; other weaving patterns; and the influence of imported designs from India and China.

Costume: Uncut cloth: Variations due to climate and geographical terrains; different methods of draping cloth; depictions on historic sculptures; skirts and loin cloths; court cultures and influences;  the 19th and 20th century wrapped loincloths; island sarongs; religious dress; and the use of fabric lengths in shawls, ceremonial blankets, turbans and head-cloths, bed covers, baby wrappers and carry-cloths, and gift covers, temple hangings and banners.

Costume: Closed Dress: Seamed costume based on fabric widths and shaped dresses defined by cutting and seaming; pleated skirts and long dresses; the influence of migrating tribes from China; the national costumes of the hill tribes and the different areas; the golden triangle;  religious dress and royal costumes; colonial and foreign influences and costume accessories like hats, bags and baby carriers.

Threads and Fibres, Spinning and Dyeing:

Threads and fibres: Their production, source materials, tools and history: Cotton, silk, vegetable and bast fibres: pineapple leaves, agave and bamboo, abaca, ramie, lotus flower threads, kapok, rattan, coconut fibre, and bark cloth; and

Dyes and Dyeing: Natural Dyes made from plants (trees, bark, roots, leaves and flowers) and insects; indigo vat dyes; and synthetic dyes.

Weaving and Loom Types: Basic weaving methods and tools; shuttles and different types of looms; weaving preparation and threading the loom; pattern weaves- types and selection; harnesses and heddles; and tapestry weave methods.

Dye Pattern Methods: Ikat, tie-dye and batik and their regional variations; the use of motifs and patterns in puppets and wall hangings, painted and printed cloths ; and political batik.

Embroidery and Appliqué: Geographical variations and the influence of migrating populations and foreign trade by land and sea; counted and cross-stitch; double running stitch; pattern darning; free stitchery (shaded embroidery; filling stitches; and double-sided and silk embroidery); metal threadwork; quilted and machine work; appliqué and patchwork; reverse appliqué; and the influences of war and persecution.

Beadwork and Bead Embroidery: Bead types and origins: shells, abalone, pearls, seeds, glass, sequins and spangles, silver and gold; application to fabric surfaces; netted beadwork and the incorporation of beads into weaving.

Thread and Fibre Crafts: Plaited and woven braids; tablet weaving; lacework, tatting;  nets and hammocks; and fibre crafts: weaving fibre mats and bedcovers; twining, plaiting and interlacing; bases for lacquer ware; and conical hat making…and

Fringes, Tassels, Pompoms and Feathers: Woven fringes, pompoms and tassels on hats, God’s eyes, tasselled lanterns and feather decorations.

All these books have been fascinating reading and like the others, this one includes a glossary; a bibliography; and lists of craft video films and museums and collections.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0052

And if the two previous books have whetted your appetite for more information about the link between symbolism and textiles, then this next book should be right up your alley!

Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine 2004.

This is a lovely book to dive into at whim, rather than trying to absorb all the information at once! With over 400 colour illustrations, this book is a worldwide look at the wide variety of cultural beliefs, the important role of amulets in protection; magic and superstition; rites of passage; war, sex, fertility and harvest; trade and profit; and all the different types, including goddesses and dolls; fossils and semi-precious stones; silver and coins; buttons, beads and blue; red, white and black; teeth, claws and paws; horns and bones;  birds, feathers and hair; snakes and fearful creatures; water and the moon;  salt, garlic, incense and plants; trees, rags and stitches; tangles and triangles; needles, porcupine quills, iron and bells; numbers and letters; hands and crosses; and saints and the church. So much interesting information!!!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0043My final book explores a particular interest area of mine:

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry 1988/ 2005

I have always loved and been fascinated by the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 to 1920) and its emphasis on simplicity, beauty and functionality and the handmade! It looks at the artistic and industrial background to this breakaway style; its ideological tenets and purpose; the evolution of the Arts and Crafts style; textiles in Arts and Crafts exhibitions, as well as their use in the home; and embroiderers and designers, like William Morris and his daughters May and Jenny; Jessie Newberry, Una Taylor and Ann Macbeth; Edward Burne-Jones; CFA Voysey; MH Baillie Scott; Philip Webb; Walter Crane; Selwyn Image; JH Dearle; Lindsay Butterfield and George Haité ; Charles Rennie Mackintosh, George Walton and Jessie M King of the Glasgow School of Art and manufacturers and shops, including Morris and Co.; Turnbull and Stockdale; AH Lee & Sons; Silver Studio; Wardle & Co; Liberty & Co. and many others, all listed in the back of the book. A very comprehensive guide to English textiles (printed and woven fabrics, tapestries and carpets and embroideries and lace) when Britain led the design world!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0042

 

Books on Sewing With and For Children

Now that the school holidays and Christmas are almost here, I thought a post on sewing and creating with children would be very timely! Sewing is such a useful life skill, whether it be the basic ability to sew on a button and repair your clothes or more advanced garment making, and learning at a young age gives individuals so much confidence in their abilities, as well as developing their creativity and just being fun!BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - Copy

I have already reviewed Learning To Sew by Barbara Snook and Simple Embroidery by Marilyn Green in my first post on embroidery books (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/07/books-on-embroidery-part-one-general-guides/).

Another excellent sewing primer for children is :

Busy Little Hands: Sewing: A First Craft Book For Parent and Child  Illustrated by Douglas Hall 1988

Written specifically for children, this book has a very child-centred approach with simple instructions and fun pictures of mice and rabbits engaged in the task. Basic sewing skills are taught from enlarging patterns and using a needle threader to patchwork, tacking, oversewing, hemming and pleating, as well as a range of simple stitches, including back stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. There are some lovely easy projects from leaf needle cases and prickly hedgehog pincushions to butterfly mobiles; costumes, masks, hats and crowns; and drawstring bags and patchwork night cases. It’s a delightful little book and very appealing to young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6572

Once the basic skills are mastered, the next two books by quiltmaker Yolanda Gifford are wonderful for inspiring creativity and imagination and a love of fabric and colour.

Fabric Fun For Kids by Yolanda Gifford 1995

After introducing basic stitches (running stitch, back stitch, overstitch) and materials (vliesofix; embroidery thread; and fabric textas, markers, dyes and paints), Yolanda launches straight into the 24 projects themselves, including hanging pillows, cushions, bags, pictures, runners, Christmas decorations, quilts, toys and glove puppets and rag baskets.

Each project has a materials sidetab; clear instructions and finishing notes, patterns and diagrams and full-colour plates of the finished article.

When my eldest daughter was younger, she was inspired by the pattern Ellie’s Bird (seen on the book cover below) to make her dad a felt panel of a king parrot.

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My girls also made the Christmas tree pillow and picture; the heart pin cushion; and Jake’s Four Patches, as seen in the photo below.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_7214 I could easily make the chook runner; the flower cushion; the Nick-Nack Sew a Patch bag and the Home Sweet Home panel myself! The projects are an excellent indicator of the popularity of Yolanda’s home sewing classes for children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6573

Simply Applique by Yolanda Gifford 1997

Yolanda’s second book is similar in presentation to her first book, but focuses on applique, using non-traditional methods and lots of freedom in colour, design and structure to portray children’s artwork on quilts, table cloths, curtains, cushions, bags, banners and family portraits and postcards.

While written for children, it is an equally wonderful book for beginners to the wonderful world of applique!

I love Yolanda’s use of bold simple shapes and bright colours and would love to make her family portrait and postcards; her appliqued curtains; her animal cushions and banner; her red and white embroidered cot quilt; and her love quilt, seen on the front cover of the book.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6574

Steiner education also have some wonderful books for encouraging imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are three of my favourites:

Toymaking With Children by Freya Jaffke 1987

Imaginative play is so important for the development of creativity, as well as developing basic life skills and this little book is packed with wonderful ideas from building sets, shops, dioramas and landscapes to making dressing up costumes, crowns, puppets, gnomes, toy animals and dolls, including doll clothing, houses and furniture and using natural materials to make toys like pine cone birds, bark boats, wooden animals and log trains.

Below is a photo of my youngest daughter’s make-believe fairy, which kept her occupied for hours in the local park, while our car was repaired during a family holiday.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7246There is also a large introductory section on the meaning and importance of play; the three stages of play; appropriate toys for each stage; and outdoor play.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6575

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys by Petra Berger 1994

Felt is a wonderful medium for children to sew, as it is strong, firm and colourful; does not fray at the edges; and is easy to cut out into different shapes. Starting with simple embroidery stitches and instructions on making hair, the book describes a wealth of toy materials, construction methods and projects including:

Wooden standing dolls: Gnomes; a royal family; Saint Nicholas; an angel; a mother and baby ; hazelnut children; a wooden doll with moveable arms and legs and matchbox dolls;

Felt Dolls: Basic model; gnomes; woollen dolls; flower children and blossom fairies; finger puppets; and walking dolls;

Dolls with pipe-cleaner frames: Basic model; Christmas gnome; jester; man; and the man in the moon;

Animals and birds: Duck and swan; a bird; a seal; a butterfly mobile; a snail; cats, dogs and mice; a horse; a rooster; simple felt pictures and books;

French knitting and crochet: a picture and bag;

Felt gifts: Balls; jewellery; a gnome and a clown brooch; bookmarks; comb cases; scissor cases; egg cosies; purses and little gift boxes.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6577

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau by M van Leeuwen and J Moeskops 1990

After a brief discussion on arranging seasonal tableaux and basic techniques for making dolls and marionettes with sheep’s wool, cotton, felt, cardboard cones, wire and wood, as well as creating faces and embroidering hair, this lovely book follows the seasons and special celebratory periods with instructions for all the elements of seasonal tableaux from:

Early Spring: Mother Earth and root children;

Spring: Spring fairies; flower children; felt dandelions;

Easter, Ascension and Whitsun: Hen with chicks; hares; sheep with lambs; paper flowers; Whitsun doves and a Whitsun wedding couple;

Summer: Beehive with bees; Summer fairies; grass wreaths; and sandcastles;

Autumn: Pumpkin child; toadstools; teasel hedgehog and spider; a boy with a kite; and a spider web;

Hallowe’en and Martinmas: Lanterns; gnomes; and mice;

Advent and Christmas: Saint Nicholas and assistant; an angel; sheep, oxen and ass; crib figures- Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus; the shepherds and the three kings;

Winter: King Winter and Mrs Thaw.

It is a wonderful way to develop and promote an appreciation of nature and the seasons in young children.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6576

My final book, Baby Crafts by Juliet Moxley 1995,  looks at sewing for children and contains 25 wonderful creative projects to make for babies, exposing the latter to the wonderful world of colour.

They are divided into four categories:

First Needs: Moses basket; cot quilt; laundry bag; nappy stacker; travel seat; sleeping bag; night dresses and caps; and rag doll pyjamas case;

Bathing and Playtime: Fish bath mat and mitts; bath robe; cardigan and beret; play mat; painting smocks; and a very cute crazy patchwork teddy;

The Nursery: Torn paper frieze; painted toy box and chair; a delightful wall hanging with pockets based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea; a cot and quilt cover and an animal mobile using reverse applique

Photo of animal patches for mobile

Special Occasions: A beautiful christening robe and pin cushion; some very appealing Christmas stockings; painted plates; and a cross stitch sampler.

While directed primarily at adults, some can be achieved by children like the torn paper frieze and the painting projects. It’s a lovely book and is a great way to generate a love of bright colours and start young children off on their own creative journeys.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6578

 

Books on Patchwork, Quilting and Appliqué

Patchwork,  and quilting are all highly inter-related crafts and are a wonderful way for sewers to use up all those extra remnant fabrics from other projects, though in reality, a whole industry has developed, supplying fabulous fat quarters for these sewing techniques. I am constantly amazed that despite my huge stash of fabric, fat quarters and fabric scraps, I still need to occasionally buy that special pattern or colour combination to match up, complement or contrast the other fabrics chosen. Choosing the right fabrics for quilting projects is a real skill and is not as easy as you would think!

Patchwork, appliqué and quilting have come such a long way since their original and traditional  function of making bed covers, table runners and hanging pictorial quilts out of recycled fabrics and there are some amazingly talented artists these days. Here are some of my favourite books in my craft library, both practical and inspirational, which cover these techniques!

Patchwork Primer: Step-by-Step Techniques and Beautiful Projects by Dorothy Wood 2000

This patchwork primer covers a multitude of techniques and information, including:

Materials and equipment and quilt terminology;

Choosing fabrics, wadding or batting and colour;

Planning a quilt design: Composition; sashing and borders; quilt backing; binding; quilt sizes and a conversion chart (metric, imperial and decimal);

Calculating fabric quantities;

Making and using templates;

Marking fabric;

Using a rotary cutting set and scissors;

Hand-piecing with or without papers;

Speed-piecing;

Joining patchwork by machine;

Pressing seams;

Working with right-angled triangles

Piecing star designs;

Specialised patchwork techniques: Piecing Log Cabin blocks; English crazy patchwork; and seminole patchwork;

Joining curved seams;

Hand embroidery stitches;

Raw-edged, traditional and machine appliqué;

Special appliqué techniques: Broderie Perse; Shadow; Hawaiian; Stained Glass; and Reverse Appliqué

Joining blocks and making a quilt sandwich;

Transferring a quilt design : Prick and pounce; Dressmaker’s carbon; Quilting templates; and Quilter’s tape;

Quilting: Hand and Machine Quilting techniques: In-the-Ditch; Selective; Outline; Echo; Parallel lines; Shell-filling and Diamond-filling; Trapunto; Italian or corded; Sashiko; and Tied;

Binding a quilt;

Sewing Machines: Type; Features; Threading; Filling a bobbin; Choosing a needle; Machine feet; Stitch tension; and Maintenance and trouble shooting; and

Templates and designs.

My friend made me this beautiful patchwork cushion for my birthday!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5177Throughout the book are patterns and instructions for:

American Block Quilts:

Four Patch: Double Pinwheel; Windmill; Road to Heaven; Flower Basket; Flock of Geese; Crockett Cabin; Crosses and Losses;  and Spool and Bobbin;

Nine Patch: Contrary Wife; Churn Dash; Jacob’s Ladder; Puss in the Corner; Darting Birds; Steps to the Altar; Eccentric Star; Shoo Fly; and Cat’s Cradle;

as well as less common designs for Five Patch and Seven Patch (Bear’s Paw) quilts;

Star Quilts: 54/40 or Fight Star; and Le Moyne Star;

Curved Seams: Drunkard’s Path;

Log Cabin Designs: Light and Dark; Barn Raising; Straight Furrow; Pineapple Log Cabin; Courthouse Steps; and Off-Centre Log Cabin; and

Baltimore Quilts;

It is an excellent book for covering all the basics!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5163

Creative Patchwork with Appliqué  and Quilting The Australian Women’s Weekly Craft Library 1998

Once you have mastered the basic techniques, it is great to be able to practice them on a few projects and this book has some very attractive and well-explained patterns for:

Bedroom Quilts: Lemoyne Star*; Dresden Plate; Double Irish Chain; and Antique;

Hanging Quilts: Naïve Doll; Birds in the Fountain; Country Vase with Flowers; Cabin Flannel; and Child’s Button Quilt*;

Minis and Lap Quilts: Crazy Patchwork; Garden Sampler*; Foundation Mini Bowtie; and Cot Quilt*;

Home Decorating: Floral tablecloth; Heart table runner; and Flowerpot*; Stitcher’s and Quilted Cushions;

Quilting Accessories: Heart Sewing Box; Log Cabin Pincushions*; and Quilter’s Carry Bag*.

My favourite projects are followed by a *.

There is a short section in the back reiterating all the basic techniques already described.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5164

The next two books cover specific patchwork techniques: English crazy patchwork and the Seminole patchwork of North American indigenous tribes in Florida.

Crazy Patchwork by Meryl Potter 1997

Crazy patchwork was very popular at the end of the 19th Century in America, England and Australia and enjoyed a brief revival in the 1990s. Odd-shaped fabric scraps are stitched to a foundation fabric, then the seams are decorated with embroidery stitches. It is great fun as there are no rules and all sorts of fancy fabric with different textures like silks, lace and brocades, velvets and embroidered fabrics can be used, as well as ribbons and braids.

Basic techniques, colour and fabric choice and the basic toolkit, including window templates are discussed briefly in the first chapter titled ‘Getting Started’ with a more detailed examination of techniques and technicalities in the back of the book, including notes on embellishments (embroidered or appliquéd motifs; lace; ribbon embroidery; and beads and charms); threads (stranded cottons; perle threads; soft cottons like Wildflowers by Caron or Danish Flower Threads; stranded silks; perle silks; synthetic threads; fancy threads like bouclé and chenille; and metallic threads); ribbon embroidery; beads, buttons and charms; pins and needles; twisted cords and piping; and mitred corners, as well as a bibliography and list of suppliers.

Here is a photo of a UFO (unfinished object for the uninitiated!), which I WILL finish one day (!), using crazy patchwork and appliqué, to make a bag or a table runner!BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5179However, the majority of the book is devoted to the projects, including materials; method; stitch notes; and finishing:

Peaches and Cream: Victorian Bag and a Fabric-covered Box;

Country Christmas: Decorations and Table Runner;

Victorian Tiles: Throw;

The Deep Blue Sea: Scissor case; Pincushion; Needlecase; and Bag: my favourite project in rich ocean colours of green, turquoise, blues and purples! See front cover of the book;

Out of This World: Bag; Spectacles case and Purse;

Precious Jewels: Brooches in varying shapes;

The Realms of Gold: Cushion and sachets;

Gentle Hearts: Wall Hanging.

This book fosters creativity and imagination, the projects merely a starting point for pursuing your own personal crazy journey!!!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5165

The Seminole Patchwork Book by Cheryl Greider Bradkin 1980

I have always been fascinated with the Seminole patchwork process! Strips of material are cut and sewn together along their long horizontal edge by machine. The strip patch is then cut vertically and the new strips are sewn together in an offset position with the long edges of the new band finished off with fabric strips.

An unlimited number of patterns, 61 of which are displayed in the Glossary of Patterns at the front and back of the book, can be created by varying the number and width of strips and the angles, widths and offsets of the pieces. The other advantage of this technique is that nothing is ever wrong or discarded as any ‘mistakes’ are not only learning experiences, but also usable in different future projects!

The book includes a discussion of the tools and materials required; step-by-step instructions for construction; notes on using the patterns, mirror image designs and graphed motifs; and suggestions for the use of Seminole to decorate clothing (ties, belts, hems, cuffs and borders, and yokes); linen (towels); and homeware (chair covers and cushions; and wall hangings; placemats and wine totes; tote bags and fabric boxes; and spectacle cases, book covers and photo frames), supported by colourful photographs.

While the format and projects look a little dated these days, it is still a really interesting technique, worthy of experimentation and exploration!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5166

Now for some specific books on appliqué !

The Appliqué  Book by Rose Verney 1990

A good introduction to the history of this art form and general techniques:

Choosing and preparing fabrics;

Cutting out: Enlarging pattern pieces; Positioning pieces; Cutting bias strips;

Transferring embroidery details: Fabric marking pencils and pens and Dressmaker’s carbon;

Stitching: Tacking; Slipstitching turned-under edges; Points, corners, circles and curves; and Embroidery stitches;

Pressing and Finishing: Mitred corners; and Joining bias strips; and finally,

Basic instructions for the construction of cushions and curtains.

The majority of the book is devoted to twenty projects, including: Tea, coffee and egg cosies; tablecloths; cushions and curtains; quilts; wall hangings and friezes; and bags and jackets.

I particularly liked the designs: Brilliant Blooms (cushion); Animal Parade and Fun With Numbers (nursery friezes); Fleur-de-Lys Variations (cushions); Beautiful Balloons (curtains) and Birds in the Trees (quilt).

This is a good basic guide to traditional appliqué  techniques in the pre-Vliesofix days! One of the projects in the book was a Stained Glass cushion using the reverse appliqué  technique, another fascinating and fun technique, as well as producing very attractive results!

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Reverse Appliqué with No Brakez by Jan Mullen 2003

I loved this book! It is so inspiring with great explanations and bright colourful designs!

It is based on the premise of the crayon resist, where designs are scratched through a black paint overlay to reveal the colourful crayon colours underneath. In its most basic form, reverse appliqué  involves the layering of two fabrics, then cutting through the top layer to reveal the hidden layer underneath, the cut edges held down with stitches.

Eg the Molas of the Kuna women of Panama in South America (see: http://www.molasfrompanama.com) and Hmong textiles (see: http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique3.html and http://www.hmongembroidery.org/reverseapplique.html).

Jan has gone one step further, sewing rough-cut fabric pieces with tapered edges together for the secret under-layer, enhancing the mystery and creativity and originality of the process! She guides you through the process, examining each layer in depth and providing plenty of suggestions for variations and further exploration. Here is a photo of my efforts using this book!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5176Chapter One describes the toolkit, while Chapter Two examines the basic processes of:

Reversing with No Brakez;

Reverse appliqué with edges turned under: Cutting through the top layer; Corners and points; and Clipping and notching curves;

Reverse appliqué  with raw edges using vliesofix (fusible web); and

Quilting: Quilt-as-you-go; Floating borders or sashing; Machine quilting; and Binding.

Chapter Three is all about design: Project and design size; Theme; Adapting traditional appliqué  designs; Text; Drawing and transferring the design; and Border design.

The secret layer is the crux of the whole process and is described in detail in Chapter Four: the fabrics (cotton, silk, satin, synthetics, taffetas, wools, flannels and sheers); multiple layers for even greater versatility and creativity; piecing layers, varying the size and direction of the strips, and different techniques like tapering, colourwash and stack-slice-switching; and stitching directly onto batting.

The top layer is also important for contrast and is discussed in Chapter Five. Black and bold plain colours contrast well, while dots, stripes tone-on-tones, repeat patterns and different textures add visual interest and may complement the secret layer. Different fabric types and different piecing options for the top layer (distinct design areas; squares; irregular pieces; tapered layered bands; and pieced blocks) are also covered.

Having assembles the sandwich layers: the backing; batting; one or multiple secret layers made of stitched strips; and the top layer, it’s time for the fun bit! When you cut through the top layer to reveal the secret layer, it is so exciting, satisfying, surprising and exhilarating! You never know exactly what you are going to get, unless you are the world’s most expert planner!

Chapter Six examines Reversing by Hand (traditional appliqué  with turned-under edges and invisible slip-stitching; and raw edge appliqué  with fusible webbing, the cut edges secured by buttonhole stitch; stab stitch; cross stitch or feather and Cretan stitch); Threads (colour, type and thickness); Reversing by Machine (Freehand and straight; scribbly and decorative stitches); and the technique of Stitching, then cutting.

Quilting and Finishing are discussed in Chapter Seven: Thread choice; hand quilting (echo stitching, textured stitching and tying); machine quilting; adding text; embellishment (beads and buttons or appliqué  on the top layer); mock trapunto; and finishing the edge with binding.

The remainder of the book features six colourful projects, reinforcing skills and techniques learnt, as well as a gallery of inspiring ideas. I highly recommend this book, as well as visiting her website on: http://www.janmullen.com.au/!

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The remaining five books in this post, while still including practical instruction and projects, serve to inspire the reader by showcasing the work of a wide variety of appliqué  and quilting experts, as well as a few particular favourites of mine!

Appliqué  Style: The Best of Contemporary Design-Plus Stylish Projects To Make At Home by Juliet Bawden 1997

An interesting and inspiring book, which examines the origins and history of appliqué; sources of inspiration and design; the work of 21 contemporary designers, showing a wide range of styles and techniques; the techniques themselves (tools and materials; preparing fabrics and paper templates; scaling and transferring the design; cutting out appliqué pieces; using backing pieces; corners, curves and circles; making bias binding; hand-stitched appliqué basics; bonding or fused appliqué; stump work; shadow appliqué; reverse appliqué; machine appliqué; and inlay work); and includes 15 projects designed by 11 of the artists featured from clothing (vest, hat, scarf), jewellery (brooches and buttons) and bags (laundry bag and carry bags) to bedding (blankets and pillowcases) and homeware (cushions, lampshade and book cover).

While I loved all the artwork, I was particularly drawn to the work of Belinda Downes, Rachael Howard, Madelaine Millington, Nancy Nicholson and Lisa Vaughan.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5169

The Passionate Quilter: Ideas and Techniques From Leading Quilters by Michele Walker 1990

A similar book to the last, but specifically devoted to quilting and featuring both traditional quiltmakers (Northumbrian; traditional; and Welsh) and contemporary artists and their work (folded patterns; pieced pictures; batik texture; pattern and tone; appliqué pictures; mosaic patchwork; stencilled images; fabric collage; machine appliqué; stitched collage; reverse appliqué; painting with fabric; hand-sewn patchwork and strip piecing), as well as describing a variety of techniques (hand and machine sewn patchwork, appliqué and quilting).

My favourite artworks were the sumptuous and richly-coloured  reverse appliqué quilts of Gillian Horn; the tonal patchwork quilts of Deidre Amsden and Sashiko-stitched vintage patchwork of Setsuko Obi; and the pictorial quilts of Jean Sheers and Janet Bolton, whose books are featured later in this post.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5170The Quilter’s Guide To Pictorial Quilts by Maggi McCormick Gordon 2000

Given my preference for pictorial quilts, this book is an excellent addition to my craft library! It covers :

History of pictorial quilts (album or freedom quilts; story and scenic quilts; and folk art quilts) with photos of some beautiful old quilts from the 1800s;

Designing pictorial quilts: Source material; Resizing images; Composition and format; Perspective; Colour; Fabric choice; Creating texture with quilting; and Embellishments (manipulated fabric, string and cord, embroidery and beads and sequins);

Techniques: Materials and equipment; Preparation (making templates; cutting out with scissors or rotary cutter and bias strips); Piecing ( straight piecing by hand, four-piece seams by hand, English piecing, using a machine to join pieced units and stitch curved seams); Hand appliqué (cut and sew, turning edges, plain paper or freezer paper backings, reverse appliqué, shadow appliqué, stained glass, machine appliqué, points and troughs, and broderie perse) and decorative stitches and embellishments);BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5171

And finally,

Pictorial Themes:

Land and Sea: African landscape; Lateral Links; Textured Towers; Remains of the Day; Places of Refuge; Anchors Aweigh; Down to the Sea; and Mountain Range;

Flowers and Foliage: In the Garden; a Receding View; Floral Shapes; Abundant Texture; Seasonal Colour and Garden Glory;

Animals: Simple Animal Shapes; a Colourful Menagerie; Birds of a Feather; Fish Tales; Bold Effects (the front cover of the book in the photo above); Zebra and Tiger; and Natural Representations;

Figures: Movie stars and famous figures; Faces; Symbolic Figures; and Abstract Realism;

Places: Architectural Masterpieces; Traveller’s Tales; a Celebration of Home; Interiors and Firework Celebration.

This book is full of inspiring and creative artworks, which support the text wonderfully. Some of my favourites were:

Cloudcuckooland by C. June Barnes with colourful patches of birdlife from around the world (http://www.cjunebarnes.co.uk/Textiles/5_Cloudcuckooland.html);

There’s No Place Like Home by Marta Amundson with its very clever abstract patterned patches of red and white repetitive reverse appliqué  symbols of Australian fauna (https://www.amazon.com/Quilted-Animals-Continuous-Line-Patterns/dp/1574327976); and

Going Places by Jane E Petty, based on a vintage travel poster.BlogBks PAQ25%IMG_5175

My final three books feature specific artists: Janet Bolton and Carol Armstrong, two of my favourites!

Janet Bolton has a very distinctive and attractive almost-naïve folk art style and I own two of her books. Here is her website: https://www.janetbolton.com/.

Patchwork Folk Art: Using Appliqué  and Quilting Techniques by Janet Bolton 1995

In this practical guide, she discusses her inspirations; fabric choices and sources; preparing the background foundation; design and cutting templates; cutting and arranging the compositional shapes (fabric appliqué pieces); turning under appliqué edges; decorative embroidery stitches; embellishment with found objects and framing pictures, all referenced with examples of her own work and supplemented with workshop activities in each chapter like Making a Seed Box and fabric panels: the Blue Bird In The Morning and Four Flowers, which I really enjoyed making.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5178 She finishes with a gallery of her work and templates for the patterns. I love her simplified and rustic depictions of childhood, domestic and farmyard scenes and her use of earthy colours and natural fabrics.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5172

Mrs Noah’s Patchwork Quilt: A Journal of the Voyage with a Pocketful of Patchwork Pieces by Janet Bolton 1995

Totally different presentation-wise to the previous book, but still showcasing Janet’s unique style, this delightful book resembles a children’s picture book and tells the story of Mrs Noah’s patchwork quilt and all the animals on the ark.

Illustrated throughout with Janet’s textile pictures, including reference to their position on a quilt, which progressively develops through successive pages to the completed quilt on the back of the last page.

The back envelope contains 10 pre-marked quilt foundation patches to which you stitch material scraps of your choice, decorating with neutral thread, then assembling into the featured quilt. It is such a great concept and I love her naïve folk style.BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5173Butterflies and Blooms: Designs For Appliqué  and Quilting by Carol Armstrong 2002

Finally, my favourite book of all, as it is based on the garden – its beautiful flowers and plants and all its inhabitants: ants and bumblebees; butterflies and moths; grasshoppers and praying mantis; crickets and cicadas; dragonflies, fireflies, mayflies and lacewings; ladybirds and beetles; and snails, frogs and turtles. I love her use of colour, the patterns created by her quilting stitches on a cream muslin background and her style. Her designs are just so pretty!!!

After detailing her tools and materials and fabric choice and preparation in the introductory chapter, she describes her design process, lightbox appliqué, which eliminates the need for templates. She discusses the order of appliqué; preappliqué techniques or appliquéd appliqué to make positioning easier; the appliqué stitch and how to handle points, curves and circles; embroidery; and bias strips in Chapter Two, while the third chapter focuses on marking; borders; basting layers and quilting; and finally binding the finished quilt.

In Chapter Four, pattern design is discussed briefly before concentrating on patterns and instructions on appliqué and embroidery for each wildflower, including line drawings and colour photographs of the finished design. Wild animal friends are the subject of Chapter Five, then all these newly acquired skills can be put to use in nine different projects in Chapter Six from tiny Bug Bites panels, which could later be used singly as an oven mitt  or coaster or incorporated together in a quilt or cushion; a Wetlands Triptych, which would also look good as table mats; and a Moth Garden door or bed hanging, which I would love to make, to other larger panels titled: May Day Cricket; Bee In a Box; Vine Wreath; Butterfly Bouquet (book cover); Golden Garden and Dragonflies’ Pond. In total, there are 42 hand appliquéd designs, of which there are 24 wildflower patterns and 18 animal patterns – all delightful! Another book, which I would highly recommend to fellow garden-lovers!BlogBks PAQ30%IMG_5174