If you sew—even just occasionally—you have scraps: bits of fabric too small to fool with but too gorgeous to get rid of. Whether left over from a big project or purpose-bought from an irresistible remnant bin, scraps happen. But what to do with them all? Sewing Bits and Pieces: 35 Projects Using Fabric Scraps shows precisely what. Author Sandi Henderson, a fabric and pattern designer, shares creative projects for the kitchen, bed, bath, crafts and parties, as well as wearables large and small for kids and adults. Even the teeniest strips can be pieced, appliquéd, fused and sewn to create lovely stuff: fabric gift tags, a picnic quilt, foodie bags, a hanging organizer, t-shirt embellishments and more, including a fantastic cardigan makeover. Big illustrations and color photos offer compelling reasons to find even more scraps to work with, turning well-loved old things—say, vintage table linen or a child’s favorite outgrown outfits—into ingenious new ones.
Fortunately, The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book: 26 Patterns Celebrating Four Decades of American Sweater Style, by Steven Tatar with Denise Grollmus, does not require an interest in regional factory lore; this book is really a celebration of sweaters. I don’t even knit, yet found myself reading the whole thing, ogling the groovy garments of yesteryear and wishing someone would knit a few for me. But first, some background: The Ohio Knitting Mills was, for 40 years, an American fashion giant. They “created knitwear designs for department stores from Sears to Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as for hundreds of labels, from Van Heusen to Pendleton.” The book documents this history with archival photos and interviews, but the main focus is a colorful timeline of sweaters: American life via v-necks, argyles, ponchos, tennis sweaters, beatnik wear and other iconic looks. Twenty-six vintage designs are organized by decade and reconfigured for today’s home knitter, both in the original color combinations and in “newer palettes geared to the modern eye.” Fascinating intros define each nifty pattern within its special framework, adding layers of cultural interest to a piece of Americana already fun to make and wear.
TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES
Ah, what to wear? This tired question runs through the average woman’s head on a daily basis, but rarely gets an above-average answer. And even a full closet is no guarantee of style. Lloyd Boston, television’s style guru, answers with The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for You. Boston condenses 20 years of experience in the fashion industry into a refreshingly simple concept: “Less is modern.” He says we may already own all we need; the trick is to learn how clothes and accessories work best for our bodies and lifestyles. He starts with categories—work, weekend, Saturday night, travel, entertaining and so on, plus two chapters for accessories—and within each he showcases the absolute essentials: for example, the white shirt, the navy blazer, the twinset, the party dress, the camel coat, the black pump. Selections are supported by persuasive, contextual descriptions, cross-referenced with “perfect partners” elsewhere in the book and peppered with advice on how to recognize the right fit, fabric and pattern for you.