This may be the first time that I am admitting to the fact that I have CBO (Craft Book Obsession). My need for craft books began around the same time that I started blogging, around 2003. At the time, I had learned how to knit, and immediately needed to buy every single pretty knitting book out there. I have a floor-to-ceiling book shelf system in my living room, and it is filled with the knitting books that I have purchased over the years, organized by binding color. Over time, my CBO has subsided, thank goodness. I have an amazing library of knitting books, and I always have a pattern at hand.
Now that I am also quilting and sewing, I’ve relapsed. I am a sucker for clean and sophisticated books with crisp, aesthetically pleasing images. If there is one good thing that has come out of my CBO (and subsequently a bookshelf filled with knitting books), it is now that I am starting to buy sewing and quilting books, I’m a lot smarter about what I’m buying. A well thought out cover absolutely does not cut it for me anymore. The content also has to be stellar.
Here are some of the things that I look for in a good sewing/quilting book:
- Images: As a professional photographer (and someone who likes to look at pretty things, in general) I want quality images that have strong composition and correct exposure. The samples need to be visually appealing. I really need the shot of the artfully displayed quilt draped across the top of an antique footboard to buy a book, it is my personal preference to expect these beautiful images in my books; however, if I turn the page and there is no shot of the completed project presented in such a way that I can visually deconstruct the piece to better understand how it is assembled, then I will seriously consider if it is a book that I actually want to add to my collection. This is especially true for projects that use a complicated technique. Even if the author is assuming that the reader knows how to do said complicated technique, they need to be considerate enough to give a detailed image. Even a seasoned sewist can benefit from a visual now and again.
- Project Requirements: I really don’t think it is a stretch to expect a sewing/quilting book to note the name of the company and line of fabric that is being used. I also believe that if thread is being used (ha!) or needles even (hand sewing or machine needles), a suggestion should be made somewhere in the book, whether on the project page or as an appendix, so that the reader is using the appropriate needle and thread. Size and strength of needles and thread matter, but you wouldn’t know it based on some of the books out there. This is especially true if there is a special tool or material needed in the construction of the project.
- Organization: I really only buy books that have a very simple way of organizing the projects within. I prefer the overall organization of the projects to be broken up into some large category, whether it is time needed to complete the project, fabric requirements, or uses of the items. I also prefer each project to be presented as an outline instead of typed out in a paragraph. And although I understand why it is done, I really prefer that the author stay away from cutesy made up words. I’d much rather see “beginner” than “easy peasy lemon squeezy.” I also prefer that the images all be in the beginning of the project, and if anything is going to be shown in between directions, that it be diagrams illustrating the point. I really don’t like it when the projects are broken up by images.