Friday, March 25, 2011

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric Crafts - Book Review

With the closing of two large Border's stores here in Columbus I was finally able to justify getting myself this book, Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing & Fabric Crafts: Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z.  That is one long title.

I'm not the kind of person to instantly think oh it's Martha so it's perfect.  I like to question the real quality of things and not just take a brand for granted.  It can also be very difficult for me to read through these basic sewing books because I've read so many of them and I teach it at CCAD so I just want to skip the hand sewing basics and machine basic descriptions.  But for those that are newer to sewing perhaps those are just the things you need.  Without Further ado my no holds barred assessment of Martha's long winded titled book.
For starters this is a hefty book.  It is 400 pages with maybe only 150 of that being sewing pertinent.  The rest of the book is focused on projects. Projects that it doesn't get into full details in the book but it does on the CD ROM that comes with it.  I didn't find that very helpful at all.  What if I set myself up to go to a quiet sewing retreat at the Hocking hills with this book in tow and find I can't do a single thing because more then half the patterns are on a disc?  for the first few projects it gives you some detailed instructions but as you move further on it just glances over the projects and shows you pretty pictures of the finished pieces.  Also annoying is all the photos from the sewing basics/examples are for all the exactly same projects so I feel like I got ripped off on new content when I go through the projects.

For example when it describes applique and all the different hand and machine variations they have these Gingko leaves and then these teardrop shaped applique examples.  Then further in the book it get's to home goods and those familiar teardrops are shown once again on a duvet cover project with nearly the same photos and no real instructions in the book.  I don't feel like it even referenced back very well to the applique section of the book.

For me this book just didn't bring anything that innovative or new.  If you are completely new to sewing then this is a nice guide and beginning but I think there are better books out there.  The good thing is that nothing is confusing in the way she describes the different techniques and components.  The CD-rom included has all the patterns so you don't have to deal with a lump of folded paper at the back of the book.  The one thing I did really enjoy was reading her summarized explanation of fabrics and different thread types at the front of the book.

I wouldn't say I regret buying this book because her patterns are pretty timeless and good templates for me to elaborate on for my own uses.  Still to me there are more minus' then plus',  I guess in the end I just feel cheated that there wasn't more original content between the demo photos and the project photos.

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