It's taken me forever to get around to reviewing Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts … but it's basically everything you expect from a Martha/Potter Craft book. Beautiful photographs taken someplace where the light always says "It's a summer Sunday afternoon"? Check. Meticulously detailed instructions which somehow manage not to imply that, left to your own devices, you'd stab yourself in the eye with the safety scissors and eat all the paste? Check. The firm conviction that the single most compelling thing you'd like to do today, more than anything else, is sew ribbon onto a bathmat? Check and double-check.
The clothing in the book falls under the heading "One Size Fits All," but not in a terrible way. There's a truly gorgeous and avant-garde scalloped suede skirt pattern that I drooled over, and the obligatory chiton dress, but the cutest thing is a little girl's dress made from a man's shirt. If I had a little girl handy I would make, like, five hundred of them. There wouldn't be a man's shirt left in any thrift store within a ten-mile radius.
I am definitely going to hold on to this book (they sent me a review copy, full disclosure). It's just sooo gorgeous, and, like everything else that comes from Martha Stewart OmniEverything, it is a perfect book to flip through when you want some kind of extra oomph for a project, but you're not sure exactly what. Plus, there's a CD of patterns for the appliqués and so forth, so that the next time I think "ooh, what this needs now is a felted stuffed chicken!" I will have one to hand.
This would make an excellent present, even for experienced sewists, simply because of the high production values. There's nothing like looking at pictures of gorgeous projects (even if they're as huh-inducing as sewing your own coasters) to inspire you to get going and make your own stuff.