The Bookpile

Do you have a bookpile? I have a bookpile. I assume everyone has a bookpile, unless they have been cursed by an evil wizard and are unable to read again until they finish some impossible task, like spinning straw into gold. (Aside: do you all know the word tsundoku, which in Japanese — supposedly — means buying books and not reading them, or letting them pile up unread?)

ANYWAY. I’ve been sent a lot of books, and haven’t had a lot of time. So I’m going to do a whirlwind tour of the bookpile! Hold on to your hats!

First up: BurdaStyle Modern Sewing – Wardrobe Essentials

burdastyle wardrobe essentials cover

There are only two dresses in this book, and there are really only dresses in my wardrobe, so the whole “wardrobe essentials” bit here isn’t very compelling for me, but one of the dresses is the Burda cap-sleeve number that I’ve been wanting to make for ages, so that’s a plus.

If you’ve every wanted to sew Burda patterns but were worried about the paucity of instructions, this book is for you. Just about every step is illustrated, and clearly, too. This looks like a great book for intermediate sewists or people who want to stretch a little bit … the patterns aren’t ‘easy’ but the illustrations mean you won’t go too far wrong.

Who knows when I’ll make that dress, but I’ll probably keep this book around!

 Stitch, Wear, Play is subtitled “20 charming patterns for boys & girls” and, well, it does what it says on the cover. If I were a hip and doting grandmother I would be making all these adorable tiny things in those really expensive Japanese cottons (but I’d only need a yard, so …). If you have suddenly acquired up to four winsome tykes and a rambling charming house and tons of free time (not sure how that goes with the tykes, but  ¯_(ツ)_/¯) this is definitely the book for you! If you don’t have (or have and don’t sew for) kids this is totally worth picking up and flipping through for some nice design ideas, especially about yokes.


Gertie Sews Vintage Casual is also a little light on the dresses (although there are several) but they’re really CUTE dresses. There’s also a whole section on patternmaking that I found easy to follow, with exactly the kind of changes I like to make: adding pockets, changing lengths, adding gathers or darts or pleats, and waistband changes.

I’ll be coming back to this book eventually, because there are some nice patterns for knits, too.

Another great thing about this book—models in a variety of sizes!

BiblioCraft is super-nerdy, and I love it. Not sure if I will make any of the projects, but the conceit is fantastic — basically there is TONS of craft inspiration in any library, and these projects are not just how-tos for the project, but how-tos for how to research for more projects!




If you like math and/or quilting, you will like Quilt Lab.







Vintage Swimwear would be a fantastic book for costume designers, and is pretty fabulous eye-candy for everyone else. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to wear the top part of an 1880s “swimming costume” as a regular old day dress …) I don’t swim often enough to want to put the effort in to making my own bathing suits, but I will probably hold on to this, just in case. (I also learned that men’s trunks were fastened with side-ties as late as the 1950s, which seems … unreliable.)



Learn to Sew with Lauren is a beginner book, and I think that it is hard for someone who has been sewing a while to really judge the quality of instructions in beginners’ books, because we don’t remember what it’s like to have no context. That said, this one looked especially easy to me, but not so easy that the projects were boring or unrewarding. The capstone dress project is something you could imagine seeing on ModCloth, for instance, and the skirt has pockets.

Also, the patterns are full-size — no photocopying or tracing up needed.
Makery is worth it just for the measuring tape brooch (page 38).



I’m sure there are other books lurking in the bookpile … they’ll have to be dormant a little longer.

4 thoughts on “The Bookpile

  1. You can never have enough books. I loved Bibliocraft — so inspirational for this librarian! Lots of ideas for new ways to share your library collections 🙂

    I’m waiting to get my hands on Gertie Sews Vintage Casual as well as the Vintage Swimwear book. Both so interesting to me.

    I hope you’ll get a look at Burda Dresses, in that same series, as clearly it would be of more practical use in your wardrobe!


  2. Totally with you on this one. I am in heaven with my bookpile this week: my husband gave me four (count ’em, four!) 7′ tall bookcases for our anniversary (sorry; he has no brothers) to create two corner nooks for books, and I am finding things in my bookpile I have no idea when or where they came from. Like years of birthdays all re-rolled into humongous one! And with all that new footage, there surely is room for that Quilt Lab…


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