Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Way Books Were

These days with the emergence of Kindle and Nook and iPads and e-readers of all sort, books have become quite a bit different from what they were like when I was a child -- or even a couple of decades ago. Remember The Woodstock Craftsman's Manuals, those handwritten, hand-drawn guides on how to do everything from make candles and knit to weaving and making pottery? I still have both of mine. 

Since I have been so into sewing this summer I got thinking about the creative sewing of an earlier phase of my life and the books that inspired it. In the late Sixties I stitched up a bunch of cotton muslin peasant blouses and embroidered colorful flowers all over the boob area. In the Seventies I made a bunch of patchwork shirts covered with embroidery and little mirrors from India stitched in to them. By the time the Eighties came I was into belly dancing and Folkwear had launched their fabulous patterns which included lots of Arabian and Middle Eastern designs that I made from silk saris purchased in Houston's sari shops. I sewed them in to dance costumes and absolutely loved them.

All of this made me remember one of my favorite books from back then. It was hand-drawn with a combination of hand-lettering and typewritten text. It was called Design & Sew it Yourself: A Workbook for Creative Clothing by Lois & Diane Ericson. I remembered having a copy but I'd lent it to someone who never gave it back so I went looking for it online and, sure enough, I found a used copy. It arrived today.
Not only is this book full of memories, it is full of stuff I had forgotten about and am so happy to re-learn. The first part of the book is a collection of garment designs based on traditional ethnic clothes. The Ericsons have another book, Ethnic Clothing, that expands on this theme. I still have my copy of that.
The second part of the book is just packed with cool and unique ideas. My favorite section is the one below on creative closures. I'm working on a silk shantung patchwork kimono jacket right now that these will be perfect for!

This section on pintucks was another favorite back then. I used a combination of pintucks and machine embroidery to make a couple of shirts with French Heirloom Details out of soft, pure cotton lawn. They were so pretty.

And there are lots of ideas for creative sleeves, collars, cuffs, etc.
So I'm going to post this and then go curl up with this book. The days are growing shorter and the long dark evenings ahead are perfect for creating pretty stuff. With this book I'll have no shortage of ideas to try.

Thanks for reading.


  1. This book portrays the real touch and taste of the embroidery.....its graceful and nice....

  2. love this book and love the designer ~ love your blog and the way your mind works, and the work you put into your blog ~ a peak through a stained glass window, into your world. lovely

  3. Thank you. Lately I haven't had much time to give to my blog, but I'm working on it!!!


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