Book Month: More Surface Design Books

During book month, we’ll be following our longer reviews of recent titles with mini-reviews of similarly themed books. Mary Beth wrote about Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules With Fabric yesterday, so today, here are a handful of other surface design books, both new and old, that we think you’ll enjoy. And don’t forget, if you click on any of our Amazon links and make any purchase this month, the commission we earn will be donated to Caritas of Austin to help them serve citizens and refugees living in poverty.



The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff
Chilton Book Company, 1996

This is a classic book that deserves a renewed wave of love and sales amongst us modern sewist types. It has thorough tutorials on hundreds of ways to crinkle, gather, pleat, fold, smock, tuck, weave, knot, and quilt fabric to achieve all sorts of interesting textures, ranging from neat and clean to crazily complicated and artistic. Though it is over a decade old, it does not look dated — the photos and illustrations are black and white, and the techniques are presented on their own (there are no projects or patterns — you’re left to incorporate these techniques into your own designs or existing patterns). I checked this book out from the library and immediately realized that it HAS to be a part of my library. Since shirring was such a big trend this year, I’m looking forward to a wave of interest in other fabric manipulation techniques — and this is the essential book to guide your explorations.



Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac
Lawrence King Publishing, 2009

I reviewed this book back in August, but just wanted to remind you of it as a gift idea for anyone interested in pattern design or digital textile printing.



Print Liberation: The Screen Printing Primer by Nick Paprone and Jamie Dillon With Luren Jenison
North Light Books, 2008

This book came out last year, but I think it’s one of the best books for getting started in screenprinting that’s on the market right now. The “with” author Luren Jenison is an RISD graduate who specializes in textile design. Because of that I was hoping for more specific instruction about screenprinting in repeat on fabric yardage, but alas, all you get is inspirational images. That said, the inspirational images are really cool and the instructions for printing on paper, T-shirts, and more challenging surfaces — such as book covers and walls — are all illustrated with photographs, which I think for this craft in particular are more helpful than diagrams. The book has a decidedly punk attitude and aesthetic (mature punk, I’d say, but still punk), which is bad if you don’t like swear words and overt politics but very, very good if you want to learn screenprinting when funds and space are (very) limited. If anyone on your Christmas list has mentioned in passing, “oh, I’d really like to start screenprinting,” this is the book for them.

For printing books more specifically geared toward fabric, don’t forget these books reviewed previously: Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin (STC Craft, 2008) and Lotta Prints: How to Print With Anything, From Potatoes to Linoleum by Lotta Jansdotter (Chronicle Books, 2008).


  1. Kim Dellow says:

    I’ve had my eye on the Manipulating fabric book for a while now – it is top of my wish list :) thanks for the little review. Kim

  2. karen says:

    The Art of Manipulating Fabric is my favorite (nonfiction) book of ALL TIME.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    How wonderful to see you endorse The Art of Manipulating Fabric. It is on my shelf and it is every bit as good as you say — and then some! Now I want to take it out immediately and work through more of the techniques.

  4. tpanderson says:

    Art of Manipulating Fabric IS truly a wonderful book…I never tire of it! Great recomendations…guess I will have to check out the others.