Book Month: Bend The Rules With Fabric by Amy Karol


Bend The Rules With Fabric: Fun Sewing Projects with Stencils, Stamps, Dye, Photo Transfers, Silk Screening, and More, by Amy Karol, Potter Craft, 2009.

Bend The Rules With Fabric is Amy Karol’s second book, the followup to the popular Bend The Rules Sewing and every bit as fun.

I assume you all know who Amy Karol is? She’s is the author of the popular Angry Chicken blog and well-known for her creative and irreverent take on home sewing. She pushes that creativity and irreverence a little further with this book; nine of the projects don’t even require sewing skills, just a sense of adventure.

More than just a book of projects and instructions, Amy explains each fabric-altering technique — painted, computer-assisted, dyed and mixed-media — and the pros and cons of each, and even recommends brands and substrates. She explains “Why This Method Will Make You Happy” and “Why This Method Will Make You Sad.” She lays out general instructions for different media and then step-by-step instructions for specific projects. For example, in the chapter called We Have The Technology, she covers:

  • printing images onto fabric sheets
  • creating your own fabric sheets
  • applying iron-on transfers
  • screen printing

And follows this with seven projects using these skills, techniques and materials.

IMG_4093Image from Bend The Rules With Fabric

As with Bend The Rules Sewing, this book strikes me as more diving board than road map; she explains how to do the basic techniques, shows you what you can do with them, then gives you a hug and exhorts you to go make something cool. If you wanted to make a project exactly like Amy’s, you could … but why not use her help to make something of your own?


My interpretation of the Drawing With Thread project

I used her tips in the Fiber on Fabric section called Drawing With Thread to make a felt cover for my moleskine notebook, cutting the felt to the dimensions recommended and sketching a little flower. I had neither a darning foot nor a free-motion sewing foot for my dinky machine (both recommended), so made do with a small embroidery hoop and no foot.

IMG_4088Image from Bend The Rules With Fabric

The result was tolerable, considering. I could have used the template in the back to make mine exactly like hers, and I appreciate having the exuberant originals to photocopy and trace. But her style is so unique it would feel more like copying than it might in other craft books.

Bend The Rules With Fabric is a book best suited for beginners to crafting with fabric and those looking to refine their technique. I’ve already experimented with fabric dyeing, potato printing, and computer transfer printing in the past; her tips help me realize what I’ve done wrong before, and point me toward materials that should give better results in the future.

If you enjoy a more unique and embellished look but need help getting started or deciding which technique is going to be right for you, then this book would be a good fit. And if you want support and cheerful encouragement in doing your own thing, well, then Amy Karol is the perfect teacher.

To see more interpretations on projects from the book, check out the Flickr group. For more Amy Karol, see her dot com, her blog (check out the video tutorials!) or her flickr stream.


  1. Tatania says:

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the review.

  2. Becky says:

    Both of her books are on my Christmas wish list! Please Santa please!

  3. Andrea V. says:

    This is a great book, and I love that you are sharing ways to take the ideas and make them your own. I’m hoping to play with some of these ideas over my winter break. Please count me in for this week’s giveaway – thanks!

  4. Laurie says:

    awesome! I was just looking for things to add to my wish list. :)

  5. Yvonne says:

    I just got it out of the library 3 days ago. It is a great book for crafty people :)

  6. Thanks for the comments, guys! I hope Santa delivers ;)

  7. you did a small quilt with a orange punkin in the middle and black fabric with dots around the orange punkin and around all that is a black fabric with candy cans and small thing that go around and around. I am looking for the fabric with that is black with candy cans and small thing on it. The picture I am lookihg at was made up as a “punpkin grins” by amie potter. I hope you can tell me where to find this fabric.
    Thank you shirley