Resources: Sewing and Hand-stitching Instructions
I’m a regular at our local library, and I haunt the online list of books and DVDs new to our library system several times a week. We have the ability to reserve books and other materials as well, so I’m very lucky to have access to some incredible resources. And once I fall in love with a book (not as rare as you might think) I will return to it repeatedly. Much like with my copy of Alias Grace, which is so loved, carted around, and read it’s missing pages and covers. As I come across the books I love and think might help or inspire others I’ll recommend them to you. If nothing else these resources mark the path I personally took while creating these blocks. If they’re helpful for anyone else I’m happy to share them.
If you’re following along with the projects, you might be inspired enough to try hand-stitching some of the blocks, especially because the book’s story centres around Grace’s storytelling visits with Dr. Jordan while she has been assigned her sewing. Sewing machines were around at the time (and mentioned in the book) but Grace, a prisoner, does not have access to one. She’s lucky, though, because her skill at making tiny stitches have granted her the privilege of sewing beautiful, fancy quilt blocks at the Governor’s mansion rather than waste her talents at a job doing manual labour somewhere else in the prison system. While most quilt blocks, even those with Y-seams and other complicated piecing, can still be put together with a machine it may be easier to piece those blocks by hand. Plus – learning new skills, especially when on a project you’ve been wanting to attempt for years, is always a box you want to check off.
With that in mind, here are a few books (available through Amazon) that I’d recommend for learning the basics of hand-stitching and sewing:
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quilting Before I had a sewing machine, I hand-pieced the quilt blocks I wanted to make. This book gives you vital information on hand-piecing “how tos”: making templates, patterns, applique, stitches, curved piecing, Y-seams. There are illustrations for every technique. This is one book that I own myself, bought when I’d had enough of just dreaming about quilting, and I’ve dug it up again today as a refresher for upcoming blocks for this blog.
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts The full title continues: “Basic Techniques for Sewing, Applique, Embroidery, Quilting, Dyeing, and Printing, plus 150 Inspired Projects from A to Z” and it doesn’t disappoint. Contains the basics and beyond, along with the incredible photography that Martha Stewart’s known for, plus projects to expand your skills. If you’re pretty comfortable with sewing it’s worth a look to get ideas for new projects or to get yourself pepped up for starting the one you’ve put off.
Stitch-opedia: The Only Embroidery Reference You’ll Ever Need Stitchopedia is fantastic for learning basic to fancy stitches. If your blocks will be a crazy quilt, this book is a useful resource for experimenting. Instructions for stitches to be made with regular floss or silk ribbon (my personal favourite).
Do you have any hand-piecing or sewing book resources to share? I’ll be posting more resources as I find them (and compiling some online ones as well) and would appreciate your input. Leave a comment here or drop me a line. Have a fantastic “Leap Day”!