Saturday, March 14, 2009


While writing the last few posts, it occurred to me that
the stuff I make and do has roots that go way back to
my childhood. Mum and Dad were Makers and Doers but,
more than that, they were Limit-Pushers. And they had an
extremely high tolerance for mess. For all that I am grateful.
In addition to them, I was also fortunate to have very
creative friends - and to grow up in an unusually artistic
youth setting in school and church. One of my most-loved
and very longest-known friends now runs her own online
specialty tailoring business, and I mean specialty : she
custom -makes (among other spectacular things) corsets
to fit people who live halfway across the world. Visit her
at My Measuring Tape here. She has always been my
inspiration and my reality check. And she's the one I
think of whenever I feel a bit swell-headed about stuff
I've done: her accomplishments plant my feet
squarely back on the ground again.

So I have to say that, given such circumstances growing up,
it is very difficult not to want to make stuff now as an adult.

Nurturing environment aside, I also had my book collection.
The kind with lots of pictures, I mean.

I thought I'd share some of them with you.
I have some of the current recommended texts - like
this, this, and this. But most of them are
old and ratty relics from my past.

This is a book series that was around when I was about
8 or 9 and which I repeatedly checked out from the
school library. Till this day I haven't found any (and I've
looked) series that comes anywhere close to them
in any aspect. In fact, the Usborne (publisher) books in
general are excellent - and many widely available even now
- including charming children's books (that have nothing
to do with craft!). Fabulous, these UK book folks.

I had to buy these on ebay a couple of years ago.
There are so many titles, and I forced myself
not to buy them all.

The Paper Fun issue is really worth getting
if you can somehow procure it, particularly if
you are a Cardboard Junkie like I am.

As a child, I attempted to construct the entire Paperville
village and its paper residents (made of cardboard tubes).

And I made a few medieval weapons from this chapter,
including a very workable catupult.
Emily's castle was inspired by this one.

Here's a particularly well-thumbed and graffiti-ed paperback.
Every Christmas I would try to make something from it for
unsuspecting relatives and friends (or hapless younger brother).

Now there is a story behind this next one.
When I was about 9, my grandmother bought me a
similar book full of little dolls like these. It disappeared from
our house some time later and I don't remember the title or
what the cover looked like. I bought this on ebay because it
looked vaguely familiar (must have been around in the stores
at the same time as the other one). I was disappointed to
find it was not the right book. I remember that other book
being even better than this one but I am willing to admit that I
might have inflated its superiority in my mind over the years.
Still, this book is all over ebay and online bookstores -
it costs a fair bit now, but it is quite delightful.

Grandma bought this for me when I was little. Embroidery
was something we all learnt as children then, no exceptions.
These Japanese Ondori books are out of this world.

I love this one - my old Home Economics textbook!

Before you point and scoff, I will say that this is how I
started learning to draft from scratch. Who would've thought
a school textbook was any good, eh? Mum and a very crafty
aunt helped refine my dressmaking bumblings, which continue
to plague me as an adult, but after more than a decade of
dressmaking-lessness, this is what I returned to, to get
the rusty old brain working. I mean, if it could teach
a teenager then, it can teach anyone now.

Speaking of drafting, this is a book I might own someday
if I find the time and inclination to progress beyond sewing
for small children. If anyone owns this already,
I'd love to hear what you think of it!

And now back to earth (and the present).
I got these next two books as gifts and they are so good,
particularly More Fabric Savvy. It has taught me that I need
about 10 different sewing feet to work with all the kinds of
fabric I want to work with. Since I only have one regular foot
and one zipper foot, I am obviously doing
disastrous things to my garments!

Then there are the beautiful store catalogs that come
to my mailbox - I cut pages out to keep for ideas. And all
your amazing blogs, of course. If I let myself read every
one that I want to, I'd never get to sleep for wanting to make
the happy things in them. Thank you for the inspiration!


  1. What a fantastic description of your parents -- it's the mom I want to be too: Makers and Doers and Limit-Pushers. Wow! Beautiful!

    Would love to hear more about the "unusually artistic youth setting"...

    What beautiful books too. And I'm with you on the feeling of 'too many (wonderful) blogs, too little time.' Can I just hire you to be my idea finder/project inspirer? : )

  2. Gee L, I'm so humbled by your regard of my 'skill'! In truth, it was YOU who started me on my journey of craftiness, and who continue to inspire and motivate me :)

    And yes! I remember those 'Know-How' books and how you kept checking them out of the library!!

  3. Peter's gotten a lot of mileage out of that Batteries and Magnets book you got him.

    I bought a foot assortment from I was glad to find the assortment for my poor machine because I had only a straight stich foot - couldn't even zigzag!

  4. Hi, Could you please send me the link to the textbook from our teens or send me the name of the book so i could search for it. I'm a 17 year old who is really interested in making my own clothes, but sadly cannot for my mother is too busy to teach me and i am too mathematically and visually declined. If you could I would be very grateful. Thank you

    1. Reshamm95: I am not sure which textbook you mean. Many of the good drafting books are no longer in print. The new ones are very complicated and many do not give a good enough foundation of the basics, such as how to get from body measurements to a basic block. They do cover a lot of adaptation of the basic block to sewing patterns, though. You can google "sewing pattern drafting book" to find some of these newer books. For an older book that I like and which may be found on ebay and other such used book sites, try this post:


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