Fabric Embellishing: A Biased Review

Some favourites in this category

I’ll admit it; I can not expect anyone to believe that I can make an unbiased review of Fabric Embellishing: The Basics & Beyond because it is written by my current writing partner (Liz) and it is published by my current publisher (Landauer). I suppose that makes me doubly biased? So there is is: my declaration of conflict.

That said: I  teach embellishing techniques. I regularly recommend such books to my students. I understand the kind of company that this type of book keeps on bookstore shelves. So, for what it is worth, my review:

Nine patch

A sense of "try it" prevails.

So often, when it comes to embellishing, it would seem that we are being sold not only a technique but the materials to create that technique. The medium becomes the message with little room for personal exploration. In Fabric Embellishing, Ruth, Liz, Heather and Lauren make a point of sharing that they all work differently, that they put ‘play’ first and that embellishing is an opportunity to put their personal marks on home decor, clothing, purses, quilts and mixed media art. Their messages are not buried beneath the media, but joyfully transmitted by it!

Fabric Embellishing could have been called “The Joy of Embellishing.” It’s a go-to “cookbook”

A fresh face to the often distressed-look discharge dyeing

for the budding artist who wants to try everything, yet remain connected to her stitching roots. The “build-your-own” technique workbook is an ideal format for stitching a unique encyclopedia of experiments. The eclectic blending of the authors’ styles compliment each other and leave the reader with the impression that no matter what her own style, there is a place for her in the world of embellishing. Colors range from sophisticated to subdued to whimsical. I particularly enjoyed the multiple takes on the contemporary crazy quilt; from Lauren’s unfettered “Green Fairy” to Ruth’s stitch mash-up in “Not Your Grandmother’s Crazy Quilt.”
There is no quantum leap between technique and practice. These techniques are ‘accessible.’ The sewist can make use of them today, in her current projects. A touch of paint, a dash of beading or the re-consideration of simple stitches can all add a thoughtful layer of personal mark-making to ordinary projects. Careful step-by-step photos make simple to more challenging ideas seem do-able. This is truly fabric embellishing. Each technique can stand on its own, or they can be combined in unique ways.

My only reservation is that I could not see more of what each artist continued to do with her techniques. They showed me their secrets and now I wanted to see more (the 160 page count said otherwise!). Given the combined talent of this bunch, I think that opportunity will present itself on-line, in teaching venues and in future publications. Overall, a nice addition to my embellishment library that fits neatly between the offerings of other volumes.

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