Fabricate: 17 Innovative Sewing Projects that Make Fabric the Star by Susan Wasinger
Interweave Press, 2009
The beauty of Susan Wasinger’s Fabricate is the way she shows you how to create beautiful fabric, not just shop for it. For some of us living in the wilds of the American Midwest (far from a Bolt or a Purl Patchwork), that’s a pretty valuable skill.
Laminated wool felt laptop sleeve
The book is divided into four main sections according to technique:
- Pleats, crinkles and tufts
- Laminates and matrix
- Cut and fray
- Surface embellishment
Swatch matrix lampshade
She doesn’t have you creating the fabric from scratch — I mean, you’re not sitting there with, like, a sheep and a loom, going to town — but she does show you ways to take what you’ve got and make it better, different, more textural or just plain more interesting. For some projects, she shows how to embellish in a new or creative way; in others, she is creating the ground fabric from scraps or pieces (such as in the “swatch matrix” of tiny triangles forming a lampshade, or in the laminated felt laptop sleeve).
Simple chiffon skirt
Fabricate‘s 17 projects look a little more sophisticated than most craft books today — or at least moreso than the ones I’m drawn to, in style if not in complexity. She uses materials like voile, silk dupioni and organza, in addition to more humble wool felt and cotton, in a light, sherbet-y palette. Many of the techniques are actually quite rough: tying, shredding, cutting. But the results look professional and neat.
While the fabric-altering methods are not complex, Susan still walks you through each step. What I found most helpful was the photographic examples. And once you have altered or embellished your fabric according to her technique, she then provides a project pattern to turn that raw material into something pretty and useful. Wave-tucked linen becomes a dress; sheared silk becomes the Faux Chenille Shawl, eco felt becomes a Shag Pillow.
She does assume a base level of sewing knowledge. Where other sewing books dedicate a chapter to “The Essentials,” Susan keeps it simple with a page about fabric and a couple pages about recommended notions and sundries (she does do pretty amazing stuff with water-soluble stabilizer). There is a glossary in the back, but new sewists might still feel more comfortable with a second sewing reference or grandma nearby.
If you’re looking to punch up your stash a little, get outside the quilting-calico box, or just make something that doesn’t have the word “ironic” in the title, Fabricate is the book for you.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
(Sorry. I”m not sure how to conclude a book review without sounding like Levar Burton.)
We have one copy of Fabricate to give away! Just leave a comment on this post telling us a new fabric or textural technique you’ve recently worked with or are interested in trying out. Comments will close and a winner will be drawn on Wednesday, December 16, around 2pm Central U.S. time. This giveaway is open to readers worldwide. Good luck!