Fabric: Do it your way

Posted March 15, 2010, at 5:34 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

Pleating, slashing, twisting, knotting, fringing, belting, tying, painting, weaving and braiding — these are only a few of the ways you can work with a T-shirt to make it uniquely yours. “Generation T: Beyond Fashion, 120 New Ways to Transform a T-shirt” by Megan Nicolay is stuffed with ideas to take a T-shirt or two and turn them into something else, such as a shrug, scarf, potholder, mobile, pillow, hat and other things both useful and decorative.

But some of the most interesting ideas in the book are the ones that embellish or manipulate the T-shirt in such a way that it becomes one’s personal fashion statement. For that information, readers will need to turn to Chapter 8 to find “a sassy mix of 20 fast and fabulous dare-to-bare tops.” This chapter, as with the others in the book, includes a playlist of tunes to have on your iPod while you wield scissors and thread to bring your T-shirt dreams to fruition.

“Generation T” is a great book for girlfriends to bond over, or for girl groups to use as a template for learning the basics of sewing, both by hand and by machine, while having fun at the same time. It’s also a nice book to have in one’s home sewing library.

The author suggests holding a T-party with friends to create tank tops, bags, halter tops and skirts from old or new T-shirts.

“Generation T” is published by Workman Publishing and sells for $15.95.

“Sew Liberated” by Meg McElwee is a compendium of 20 projects using applique to put pizzazz in to the art of sewing. The projects are a mix of blankets, pillows, aprons, bags and clothing plus a clock, baby carrier, cloth books and a sleeping mask — things for the home, babies and children, and for the stitcher herself. All are artfully embellished with applique motifs.

The book contains a packet of patterns for all the projects in the book, a useful feature that saves the trouble of enlarging the patterns or drawing them from scratch.

“Sew Liberated” is a book that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.

The book is published by Interweave and costs $24.95.

“I Love Patchwork” by Rashida Coleman-Hale offers 21 zakka projects. What, you may ask, is “zakka”? According to press release information, it is a Japanese word “for everything that spruces up your home, life and outlook.” And this is just the book to do that since many of the projects are for the home, including an appliqued pillow, a kitchen towel, a table runner, placemat and napkin set, and even a sewing machine cover. A flower mobile and a button calendar also are in the mix.

Detailed instructions are given for each project, making them easy enough for beginners to tackle and interesting enough for experienced seamstresses to create.

The book is published by Interweave and costs $24.95.

If you like to play with fabrics, “Fabricate” by Susan Wasinger is a book you won’t want to miss. The book will have you “following the thread” to learn the uses of pleats, crinkles and tufts; laminates and matrix; cutting and fraying; and surface embellishment. Sculpt the bodice of a sundress, anyone, or try stitchless embroidery on a top?

The projects in this book range from clothing to bags, lampshades and beyond.

The book is published by Interweave and costs $22.95.

Those who enjoy hand sewing and like to work with felt without having to do the felting will be charmed by the projects in “Felties: How to Make 8 Cute and Fuzzy Friends” by Nellie Pailloux. The too-cute-for-words friends in the book, in my opinion, are the Chihuahua, the sailor puppy and the pensive rabbit, but all 18 are appealing. Each tiny critter is about 3 inches long and embellished with embroidery stitches and beading. The book is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and costs $14.99.

Dogs and cats get along amicably in “Stitchy Kitty Fuzzy Puppy” by Ayako Otsuka, a book that features canine and feline motifs to embroider. The book contains 31 projects including pillows, potholders, shopping bags, clothing and dish towels. The motifs are engaging, and the embroidery stitches give the shapes the texture of animal fur from shaggy dog to silky cat. Embroiderers will find much to delight them in this book published by Interweave. The cost is $19.95.

Visit your local library or bookstore and ask about these books.

Snippets

• Maine Fiberarts has on exhibit “Animal Applique: Quilts by Jeanne-Marie Robinson, 1938-2010, A Celebration of her Work” through April 30 at its gallery, 13 Main St., Topsham. Robinson, who died several months ago, is formerly from Northport. A reception is set for 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the gallery. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Call 721-0678 for information.

• More than 49 artists and artisans will take part in the Spring Arts and Crafts Show 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, March 20, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, March 21, at The Farmhouse, Plants Unlimited, in Rockport. Attendees will find jewelry, note cards, paintings, photographs, tole painting, clothing, stuffed animals and more at the show.

Gabrielle Wicklow of Camden will give a rug hooking demonstration. Wicklow is a member of the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists and the National Guild of Pearl McGown Hookcrafters.

There is no admission fee to the show.

For a list of artists taking part in the show, visit www.plants-unlimited.com.

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