I have always been a real bookworm, I just love reading. And I love having lots and lots of books at home. Given my obsession with crafting, it inevitably follows I can’t resits craft books. It is sad that my local library does not have a very good collection of them, so I have ended up having to buy a lot of books myself. I usually tend to buy books which I can learn useful techniques from, I rarely end up making the actual projects exactly as they appear in the book. I even buy books on techniques I have no immediate intention on actually using – for example, I’ve got lots of books on all types of embroidery, something which I like but as a craft is very much on a back burner at the moment.
But a really good craft book of course provides both useful advice and inspiration. There are far too many craft books that are just uninspiring and look dated, but I am so glad in recent years there have been a new surge of craft books that are fresh and modern, look beautiful and are packed with useful tips. It is these books I wanted to start writing about in this blog.
As I have been on a bag making theme recently, what better way to start than covering two great books on that topic. They are Lisa Lam’s The Bag Making Bible and Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 yeasy ways to 26 wonderful bags. Both books show that a girl who loves her handbags really does not have to spend a fortune on wonderful and unique bags, she can easily make her own. But although they both cover the same topic area, these books are quite different and in many ways perfectly complementary.
The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam is a really practical book that covers all aspects of bag making. Its chapters are organised by technique (such as structure and reinforcement, linings, closures and so on) and each chapter finishes with a project you can practise that technique with. The projects are colourful and modern, often using Amy Butler’s fabrics, so they really are projects that you can easily see yourself actually making. The projects start with an easy book bag and a bucket bag, but quickly move on to more structural bags that I at least would not have been be able to figure out how to make on my own. I particularly love the Great Getaway bag which really looks like a “real/shop-bought” bag (you know what I mean…). If I ever get to that stage in my bag making I really will be very pleased with myself.
I have not yet made any actual projects from this book, but I have used some of the techniques in my bags that I have recently made. I particularly like the fact that there are lots of photos illustrating each techniques, and I have found the instructions very clear and easy to follow. So all in all, this really is an excellent craft book, exactly the kind I wish there were more of.
Amy Butler’s Style Stitches is an amazingly beautiful book. The photos are gorgeous and the pages are decorated with her designs. If you like Amy Butler’s style, you are going to love this book. If you don’t, well, then it’s not going to be quite as useful as Lisa Lam’s The Bag Making Bible. This is because the book is organised around Amy Butler’s bag designs rather than specific techniques, so the focus is definitely on prettiness rather than on educating the readers about the bag making process and the materials and techniques involved.
The projects are ranked according to their level of difficulty. The easy ones consist of everyday shopper-style bags and a set of make-up pouches. It then moves on to the more involving projects such as a pleated clutch, a coin purse and several different types of handbags.
So far I have made several make-up pouches (which unfortunately I gave away as gifts before photographing them). Although I did manage to follow the instructions pretty easily, there aren’t any photos guiding the process, only some drawn diagrams. In this respect Lisa Lam’s book is definitely more helpful. If you prefer lots of visual guidance rather than text-based instructions this book might not be for you. That’s not to say the book isn’t well written, it is, and there are some diagrams, but I feel that given the otherwise high standards of photography in this book, they could have provided a few helpful technical photographs. But having said that, those people who love Amy’s style and bag designs will probably buy and love this book anyway.
So all in all, these two books are both excellent in their different ways. The Bag Making Bible provides lots of information and advice on technique, as well as many great bag designs that you can easily adjust to make your own. Amy Butler’s book is packed with beautiful and quirky bag designs and gorgeous photography and will without a doubt appeal to her many fans.
So if you are bag-lover (and whichever girl wasn’t?!), then you should definitely have a go at making your own bags – that way you can always have the perfect bag for every occasion. These two fantastic books will guide you through the process.
In case you want to buy these books, here are the links to Amazon (please do note that I am an Amazon affiliate, so if you purchase the books through these links I will get a few Amazon reward points).
- The Bag Making Bible: The Complete Guide to Sewing and Customizing Your Own Unique Bags
- Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags