I mentioned in a previous post how lucky I am that my mom taught me how to sew, and in my cranky teenage years, no less! She taught me the basics on a machine that is quite similar to the one I use as my primary sewing machine now. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time poring over sewing books in bookshops and libraries, and investing in the ones I found most helpful. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite sewing books for beginners, although I think many of these are great resources even for more experienced sewers….
I’ve been taking advantage of the public library lately, checking out some relatively new books from famous designers, and revisiting some of my favorite interior design books. I wanted to share a roundup of my top five favorite interior design books, the ones that I’ve been mining for inspiration for my own home.
Domino: The Book of Decorating – this book was something of a game-changer for interior design books. So many of the interior design books I encountered before Domino were way too specific for my tastes (for example, how to decorate your home in beachy cottage style, or traditional Chinese decor, etc.) Domino has a way of mixing and matching styles that really appeals to me (and many others, it seems!), because you don’t have to get bogged down in tradition or living up to some set of rules.
Domino has chapters dedicated to each room of your home, and is filled with varied examples of how to approach design in those spaces. While the magazine is no more, I’d say Domino is well-remembered for helping thousands of readers create happy modern homes.
The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus – I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Nate Berkus. I think a lot of people I know are a bit burnt out on hearing about him, perhaps he suffers from a bit of overexposure on TV (but really, who could say no to Oprah when she comes calling?!) I don’t watch much TV, so perhaps that explains why I am still fascinated by his new book. In it, Berkus makes a pretty compelling claim against the trend of minimalism, arguing that our “stuff” is what helps to define our lives, and brings meaning into our homes.
Many of the interiors featured are stunning, but it’s the strange details that I find most interesting (for example, the bizarre homemade sculptures found in the home of Barbara Hill shown in that second photo.) Berkus reminds us that the unique things that we accumulate, “give our everyday lives shape, texture, and a sense of who we are, who we’ve been, and where we may be heading.”
Design*Sponge at Home – I was so excited to check this book out when it first debuted; my first weekend browsing it’s pages put a huge dent in my post it notes supply, I had marked almost every page! There’s so much inspiration in these pages, and I love that Grace Bonney made a serious effort to feature homes of a wide range of people – not just professional designers. The last half of the book features a ton of great DIY projects, and if you’ve spent any time on the Design*Sponge blog, you know that they do a great job featuring high quality projects that you actually want to keep in your home.
The Selby Is In Your Place – The Selby is another wonderful blog featuring the homes of people who take a DIY approach to decorating their homes. He features so many wonderful creative spaces, and has an eye for capturing the unglamorous but important details of a home. I love that the homes range from over-the-top super collectors, with shelves of books that reach the ceiling, to artists working in their homes, surrounded by their creative messes. This book feels real to me: mostly unpolished, and certainly focuses on the things that make a home unique.
A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life by Mary Randolph Carter – I stumbled on this book quite by accident, but was delighted by what I found inside. If the title isn’t quite clear enough – this books features decidedly messy spaces. It talks about why our homes are often disorganized (kids, hobbies, collections, busy lives), and why it’s OK to embrace a little mayhem in your home.
I love that Carter focuses on what I think is most important: getting enjoyment out of your home. If you can’t relax and be yourself in your own home, what’s the point?!
Did I choose one of your favorite interior design books? Any others you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!
Riffing off my other eraser printing DIY project, which uses a new pencil eraser to make cute polka dotted gift wrap, I thought I’d take that DIY a little further for Valentine’s Day. I love using stamps to make patterned gift wrap or cards, and carving your own heart stamp is super easy!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Varied cards or papers
- Stamp pad
- Carving tools (I use an x-acto knife and a small printmaking carving tool)
- One brand new pencil with an eraser, one pencil to draw with
Start by drawing a little heart on the unused eraser. This will be your guide as you carve.
Proceed by carefully (and I mean CAREFULLY! I don’t want anyone getting hurt!) cutting around the edge of your drawing, and cutting away the edges. It’s very easy to accidentally lob off the whole eraser if you’re going too fast, so take your time. Watch out for your fingers, those x-acto knives are sharp!
All that’s left to do is stamp! I used a black stamp pad, but you could use any color. I would love to do this project using neon pink ink. You can go super simple, just stamping a single tiny heart on the card or envelope, or you can go wild!
I made a few different versions, one of which I am sending to my sister. I made her address label using some of the leftover paper! Hope you’re inspired to send a sweet snail mail valentine to someone you love.
I have been looking for gifts to bring to holiday parties this year, and after reading a little about furoshiki, or fabric gift wrapping, I had to try it with one of the Cotton & Flax tea towels. I think it turned out nicely (it kind of looks like a person wrapped in a cozy blanket!), and gives that gift for the host or hostess a little extra oompf.
You could also really easily wrap a cookbook in a tea towel, another great gift combination for the cook or foodie in your life. There are lots of guides to furoshiki on YouTube, definitely worth checking out!
Did you happen to see this great pom-pom wrapping DIY project floating around Pinterest? Shauna and Stephen from Something’s Hiding in Here had a similar idea a while back too. I was inspired to combine the festive pom pom decorations with my own hand stamped gift wrap as a different take on this fun wrapping paper that has been making the blog rounds lately.
I started by making some simple polka dot wrapping paper using just a new pencil eraser, and a standard stamp pad. You could even do something more intricate, by following my DIY hand stamped gift wrap tutorial.
Then I created a few pom-poms (you can find lots of tutorials online, Martha Stewart has a good overview here.) After wrapping string around the package a couple times like a ribbon, I tied the pom-poms to the top of the package to complete this dotty package.
This is an easy way to wrap larger gifts, and an affordable alternative to some of the fancier gift wraps out there. It’s easy to customize with your loved one’s favorite color, too!
Did you happen to see Heather Ross’ DIY Envelope Liner project on the Etsy blog recently? I was totally inspired to try something similar, but instead of using a premade pattern, I wanted to create my own! I’ll walk you through the steps of using hand carved linoleum stamps to print your own envelope liner, which is sure to impress any pen pal, and could even be used to create personalized stationery or wedding invites!
- Text-weight colored paper that compliments your envelope
- Linoleum printing block
- Acid-free glue stick
- Stamp pad
- Carving tools and Xacto knife
- Envelope with a pointed flap (I used 4 bar size envelopes for this project)
*Author’s note: I only recommend products that I love and use in my own studio. I may receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked to in my posts.
Begin by trimming the blank paper to size. First, unfold the top envelope flap, and measure from the center of the bottom of the envelope to just under the glue on the top of the flap. Then measure the width of the envelope (see Fig. 1). Trim your paper to accommodate this size. Slip the piece of paper into the envelope to test if it will fit (it should look like Fig. 2).
Next, create a stamp that you’d like to use for the pattern inside the envelope. If you’ve never carved a linoleum stamp before, I covered the basics in my gift wrap stamp tutorial. You can sketch out a design on a piece of paper, or just draw an idea directly onto the linoleum block with a soft pencil. Keep in mind that carved areas will not print, and that your design will print as the reverse image of what you carve. Safety tip: always push the carving tools away from your body, and be careful not to keep your hand in front of the knife (you don’t want to knick a finger!)
Play around with size and scale, see if you prefer the look of a larger design, or a very small design. You’d be surprised how much a simple polka dot can jazz up a plain envelope. Stamp your design onto the liner paper using the ink pad, either in a uniform pattern, or completely randomly! I like to mix it up and try a few different variations. You can even combine two or more stamps into one design. Allow the ink on the liner to dry before continuing.
Slip the freshly printed liner paper into an envelope, with the printed side facing out (see fig. 3). Fold down the top corners of the liner on both sides so that the folded edges run just below the glue line on the envelope. Remove the liner from the envelope, and cut off the corners along the creases (see fig. 4). You can also cut a rounded corner at the tip, to make it look even more professional.
Slide a piece of scrap paper under the liner to protect the outside of the envelope from glue (see fig. 6), and use a glue stick to apply glue to the edge of the liner (note that it is only necessary to glue the liner’s flap). Close the envelope flap over the liner and press firmly to adhere the liner to the flap. Remove the scrap paper.
You now have a completed, lined envelope. Be careful when you seal the envelope, you don’t want to lick your stamped liner (or get a papercut on your tongue, ouch!)
Feeling inspired? Check out my other block printing DIY projects!
Ready to dive in to the world of printmaking? Check out my screenprinting class on Creativelive!