Create & Decorate
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from our bookshelf
by Noelle A. DeMarco

From the July/August shelf...

craft techniques and projects

Sewing the Seasons:
23 Projects to Celebrate All Year

by Sandi Henderson, Wiley Publishing,

Now, a book that talks about sewing for each season might not appeal to everyone—the whole world, after all, doesn’t get to experience spring, summer, fall, and winter. But flip through this book once and whether you live in a perpetual summer (lucky!) or never-ending winter (deepest apologies), you will find a beautiful project that you can enjoy at any time. Plus, if you live in regions where your produce depends on the season, two recipes are included in each section that incorporate what’s fresh at the moment!

Ever thought of repurposing an umbrella? I like the old-fashioned kind (with metal spokes) but I don’t always like their outdated designs. With the Rain or Shine Umbrella, I can pick up an old umbrella for a song, and give it a cute makeover with any fabric I like. The Ruffle Lounge Pants are impossibly adorable, and look so comfy. You could easily stitch them up in a heavier fabric for cold weather, because comfort knows no temperature. And they have pockets! (If you are anything like me, then you know how important that is.)

The Shabby Pumpkins will last forever and the Reversible Pencil and Storage Bags would make a comforting Back-to-School companion. A lot of families have a Christmas Eve PJ’s tradition (my grandmother did that for us even after we became adults); how fun would it be to sew up some for your family, tailored to each person in a special fabric?

Each project has clear, step-by-step instructions, and all the patterns can be found online, so you can enlarge them as necessary.

For a chance to win this book check out our giveaways page!

From the May/June shelf...

craft techniques and projects

the modern day pioneer:
simple living in the 21st century

by Charlotte Denholtz, FW Media,

If that title doesn’t grab readers of Create & Decorate, then really, what will? Leading a simple life, harkening back the old days, when people didn’t need very much to get by, and what they did need, they made or grew themselves. Whether you want to go the whole hog and be as pioneer as possible, or just want to start slow by canning or baking a fresh loaf of bread, this book will help guide your endeavors.

This book runs the gamut, from the aforementioned canning and breadmaking to soapmaking, menus for seasonal meals (made with ingredients you can grow yourself), to making candles, healing herbs, and sewing your very own quilt. You can even learn how to brew your own ale! (Hey, the pioneers had to have a little fun, right? Even our founding fathers enjoyed a pint after a long day of forming a new country.)

You can learn how to compost and keep chickens, and collect rain water in a barrel. Fill your house with the intoxicating smell of Cracked Wheat and Honey Bread on a cold afternoon. Make your own cold and flu syrups when that dreaded season rolls into town, and learn how to fight insomnia with just a simple change in diet, or a soothing tea.

Each set of instructions gives you the rundown of what you’ll need, and everything is detailed and well-explained. There are also little information tidbits and Pioneer Tips along the way. The pioneers built lives for themselves using only the essentials and the little that they had. If they did it, you can dedicate yourself to trying it as well.

For a chance to win this book check out our giveaways page!

More on our shelves...

craft techniques and projects

craft: techniques & projects

by DK Publishing,

Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or just a dabbler, you have an Etsy shop, or you simply like to make gifts for friends and family, this book needs to go on your musthave list. Packed to the gills with over 50 projects, the best of both creativity and economy can be found here.

A needle-felted sheep is just too adorable not to make, and can be done in a weekend. You can go retro with a quilled paper picture—it would make a pretty (and pretty affordable) gift. Mosaic flowerpots can be made with any old china you have lying around—if you don’t have any, it’s a perfect excuse to go on a flea market excursion!

The crafting techniques run the gamut from jewelry to soap making, to silk screening and to rubber stamping. Step-by-step instructions, close-up photography, and guiding annotations make every project feel like a breeze. Every section begins with a list of materials (including photos) you will need to make every project, so you won’t find yourself having to stop mid-creation because you don’t have, say, blue painter’s tape or round nosed pliers!

heather ross prints

heather ross prints

By Heather Ross, photographs by John Gruen, Abrams Books

Heather Ross, known for her whimsical fabric prints, is a definite favorite among sewers, quilters, and general fabric fiends. In her new book, she provides over 50 designs, as well as 20 projects you can create using them.

And the prints are plentiful! There are donkeys, dogs, beaches, fairy tales, flowers, mermaids, unicorns, and, more, including the most adorable clothespin dolls you’ve ever seen. And all those prints can be turned into votive holders, notebook covers, hand towels and linens, pajamas, sheets, gift wrap, wall hangings, aprons, and—you guessed it—more! The possibilities are endless, and this book is the perfect place to get started.

The book comes with a DVD so you can easily begin downloading files and get creative. Step-by-step instructions are included with each project, along with helpful sewing hints, computer tips, and lovely color photos.


reinvention: sewing with rescued materials

By Maya Donenfeld • John Wiley and Sons, Inc. •

They say necessity is the mother of invention; perhaps, though, it should be changed to reinvention. With the majority of us feeling the squeeze of the economy, we’re all trying to get the most out of what we have. If you’ve been looking around at thrift shops and flea markets, or even your own stash, trying to figure out how to give old fabrics a new life, Donenfeld’s book is the perfect tour guide.

Vintage fabrics and linen can be turned into pillows, dresses, and bags. Leftover wool can be used to make an adorable and comfortable pouf for the kids to sit on while reading or playing games. Denim can turn into a hammock (say goodbye to all the jeans you’ve been hoarding!), soft jersey can become a pretty “flower” headband, and even burlap can be transformed into firewood carriers and stylish bins.

The book is also filled with interesting facts on each fabric, where you can find them, and how to deconstruct them. Patterns are included, as well as easy-to-follow instructions, tips, and beautiful color photos. You’ll find yourself looking at fabrics in a whole new light!


all sewn up: 35 exquisite projects using appliqué, embroidery, and more

By Chloë Owens, CICO Books •
all sewn up

Chloë Owens is a bona-fide creative soul. You’ll see that with just a quick flip-through of the colorful pages of her book. Inspired by the colors and fabrics of the 1960s, you won’t be able to keep from smiling as you read.

Toss that boring old computer case you’ve been using and make a Lush and Lavish Laptop Cover instead. A sweet Butterfly Catcher Pillow is a fun
addition to any children’s room, and some Funky Fabric Flowers create a bouquet that will last a lifetime. Throw a tea party with your best friends—the Fly-Away-Umbrella Tea Cozy’s whimsical design will create the most inviting tea table.

The instructions are straightforward, and you can use any fabrics that make you happy. There are technique and supply guides to help beginners or refresh the pros. All the templates you need are included, so grab some supplies and get started.


seasonal table settings: 21 designs inspired by nature

seasonal table settings

By Catharina Lindberg-Bernhardsson • photos by Roland Person, Schiffer Books •

When most people throw a dinner party, they worry about crowding the table with too much decoration and fuss. They opt to keep things simple, and let the food be the star. Catharina, however, urges readers to forget the conventional and go big. Decorate with the season, and use what you have around you, whether it is acorns, shells from the beach, or fresh asparagus from the farmer’s market.

Ripe cherries, their deep red hue combined with white roses to make a heart, or crisp red grapes and red roses
in a copper dish make the perfect centerpiece for a Valentine’s Day table. A wooden box full of seed potatoes can accompany an organic meal—and they can be planted afterwards. Set pots of fresh herbs along the length of the table and let guests choose their favorites to add to the meal. For a bountiful autumn buffet, cover the table with hay, and nestle in apples, pears, and baskets brimming with fresh fall vegetables.

The beautiful color photos and simple instructions are just a starting point, and will provide endless inspiration for any type of party.

Passion for Primitives: Folk Décor for Interior Design

By Franklin and Esther Schmidt, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. •
passion for primitives

Primitives are all about simplicity and function. True primitive pieces were ones that were mainly designed to be used, though some were constructed to add a little special touch to a room as well. To those who are in love with them, however, they could most certainly be called “accidental art.”

The authors traveled all over the United States, vising prim homes and photographing the owners’ most prized pieces. In a world where everything is moving so quickly, many are trying hard to simplify, both in lifestyle and in decorating. From double wides to McMansions, anything goes for a prim decorating style. The outside doesn’t matter at all—it really is what’s inside that counts.

An up-to-date kitchen can have a decidedly prim feel with rustic cabinetry and bench seating; a contemporary bathroom can feel historic with a cleverly-designed old-fashioned sink; and a set of bunk beds created with distressed wood and covered in quilts can send a child’s bedroom back in time. And prim decorating can fit any budget; real antiques or recreated pieces will look equally lovely.

Whether you want an all-out 1800’s house or want to simply add a primitive accent to a contemporary home, the beautiful photography and informative chapters will leave you feeling inspired.

The Knook: Now You Can Knit With a Crochet Hook

By Leisure Arts •
stitches from the schoolhouse

Know how to crochet, but just can’t master the art of knitting? Are you already a master of both the needle and the hook? Or maybe you don’t even know the difference between the two. That’s just fine; with the Knook, you’ll be completing projects in no time, regardless of experience level.

The Knook package comes with three bamboo Knooks (sizes G/4.0 mm, H/5.0 mm, and I/5.5 mm), three different colored cords, an instruction booklet, and four beginner patterns. The booklet contains step-by-step instructions for knit and purl stitches and for casting on and off. Every step has photos for both right- and left-handed folks (cue angels singing). There are also videos of each step available at, and if you have computer access, these are highly recommended to make your Knook technique that much better.

The Knooks are easy to use, with a slight indent for a thumb rest that makes them comfortable to hold, and the included cords have edges that won’t fray. Word of warning: if you are familiar with crochet, please read each step carefully, as after a certain point, you won’t be using the same yarn over typically used in crochet.

You really must try the Knook for yourself. Once you familiarize yourself, projects can be completed quickly, and all your friends will be impressed! The phenomenon is growing (there is even a Knooking group on Ravelry []), so there are plenty of sources at your fingertips.

Stitches from the Schoolhouse: Projects Inspired by Classrooms of the Past

By Renée Plains, Kansas City Star Books •

stitches from the schoolhouseHave you ever looked at turn-of-the-century photos and wondered about the people that looked back out at you? Renée Plains has always had this fascination with old school photos, and this curiosity has inspired her latest book.

Old schoolhouses, with their classic structure, rows of wooden desks, and coat hooks are a reminder of what education used to look like, when seven-year-olds shared a classroom with 13-year-olds, and each student wrote out their lessons on their own slates. Quite unlike today, where SMART Boards have replaced chalkboards, and students can bring their laptops to school.

The projects Renée shares will help bring a bit of the good ‘ole days into your everyday life. The Apple for the Teacher Pincushion is a different spin on a gift for your child’s favorite teacher; the Cat’s Game Book Tote is the perfect accessory for a trip to the library; the Vintage Photo Album will be the perfect place to display your treasured antique photographs. School- themed quilts like the Schoolhouse Steps and Little Brown Schoolhouse will look equally beautiful draped at the foot of the bed or displayed on a wall.

Beautiful color photos and easy-to-follow steps accompany each project, and patterns are included.

Steampunk Chic: Vintage Flair from Recycled Finds

By Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil • All American Crafts Publishing, Inc. •

steampunk chicSteampunk is a design style all its own. Recognizable by its whimsical use of clock gears, watch faces, and skeleton keys, it may not be to everyone’s taste. But to those who sense the magic of this curiosity, the design possibilities are seemingly endless.

Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil, experts at repurposing flea market finds, turn their found treasures into “Victorian restyling of everyday objects into home accents imbued with mystery and romance.”

If you have a penchant for making up stories about found objects, then steampunk crafting offers ample opportunities for your imagination to jump the fence. The O’Neil sisters themselves spin artful tales about each of their creations, combining crafty witticisms to inspire you—and have you running for that box of gears you bought for 25 cents at a garage sale that you knew would come in handy one day.

The Alchemist’s Garden would make the perfect gift for the budding horticulturist in your life. A plant stake crafted from flatware—and embossed with the genus and species of said plant—adds just enough steampunk charm to any potted plant. If you’re looking for something a bit more fantastical, then the Candela Obscura chandelier is the perfect edgy accent for your foyer—or even to light your workspace. Looking like it came straight from a mad scientist’s lab, this light fixture is composed of wire-wrapped light bulbs, vacuum tubes, and a countless array of steampunk ephemera. Looking for a conversation piece? Place a Gas Lamp Love Story on the coffee table when you throw your next party. The middle is carved out of a hardcover book and replaced with a post office box door, then sealed with a padlock, creating a clever book box that must be opened with a key.

The O’Neil sisters offer easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos. Weaving through it all is their unique voice, making you feel as if you are journeying on a crafting adventure with dear friends. A handy guide to gathering steampunk finds, as well as an inventory of necessary tools will have you on your way in no time.

To order this book, please call All American Crafts at 973-347-6900 ext. 115 or order online:
$15.95 + s&h

Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes

By Rebecca Burgess • Artisan Books •

harvesting color

As soon as your hands touch the pages of this book, I highly recommend you flip right to Chapter 2: Materials and Tools of the Trade, because once you see all the luscious colors you can create on your own, you will want to waste no time getting your hands dirty.

Relying on synthetic processes to produce dyes is harmful to our air, land, and water. Burgess points out, however, that it isn’t hard to get back to basics. Many natural dyes can be produced from local plants, and the author identifies 36 species that will yield brilliant shades of color. You will also learn where to find the plants, and how and when to harvest them. There are master dye recipes for creating nonsynthetic and eco-friendly dyes—all you have to do is gather what you need, pick a color, and run with it.

Each chapter features a knitting project made from wools dyed from plants harvested during each season. Wool dyed with madder root, which the author found in Wyoming (and can also be ordered from specialty nurseries around the country) is used to make a deep red hooded scarf that will stand out beautifully against a winter white landscape. To create a summer nap mat, use any combination of your favorite colors dyed from sagebrush, indigo, elderberry, or goldenrod. If napping’s not your thing, this would also make a wonderful small rug.

Whether your garden is on the rooftop or spread over several acres, as long as you think creatively, you can produce natural—and beautiful—dyes at home.

spud and chloe at the farm

Spud & Chloë at the Farm

By Susan B. Anderson • Artisan Books •

I will start out by saying that this has to be one of the cutest books I have ever reviewed. Not only will you learn to make the most adorable knitted farm animals, but you also get a fun kid’s story, making this the perfect bonding tool for a knitter and child.

Along the way, you will meet Spud, a shy but cuddly sheep, and his owner, Chloë. Tag along with them as they visit the farm and make some new friends, including a mother hen and her chicks, three little piglets, and a black sheep that is really anything but.

Of course, every farm needs the proper accoutrements, so you’ll also find patterns for a picket fence, bales of hay, baskets, buckets, and even a foldable barn.

Sit down with a little knitter and create an entire farm scene that will guarantee hours of interactive play—and hopefully begin a brand-new generation of knitters!

Pie Contest in a Box: Everything You Need to Host a Pie Contest

By Gina Hyams • Andrews McMeel Publishing •
Pie contest in a box

Pie can be both a happy and contentious subject; everybody’s mother/grandmother/aunt makes the best apple/ cherry/peach pie. Pie reminds us of home, of cozy kitchens, family holidays, summers on the front porch. Pie is a popular topic, and with some help from Gina Hyams, you could host your very own pie contest.

In this compact little box, you will find a small handbook that packs a big punch, filled with pie-centric chapters, as well as tips and recipes from champion pie bakers (Black Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie anyone?). The box also includes 12 pie toppers, 60 scorecards, five judge ribbons, and four prize ribbons.

There are tons of contest theme possibilities: fruit pies, unusual ingredient pies, single flavor pies, meat pies, or pies that use only local ingredients. A pie contest is the perfect activity for your next family-get together, office party, or a night in with friends. Create some new memories—and recipes—and enjoy a slice (or five) of pie!