Book Review: Making Fabric Jewelry

Making Fabric Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Stitch, Fold, & WearMaking Fabric Jewelry: 20+ Projects to Stitch, Fold, & Wear by Marthe Le Van

Thanks to Lark for sending me this book to review! Since the holidays are coming, and birthdays seem to pile up on me constantly, I thought this would be a good book to review.

As with many of Lark’s books, this is primarily a project book. There are about 23 projects included, which run the gamut from bracelets and earrings to wristlets, brooches and chokers. The book includes the basics, project templates, bios of the designers and (YAY!!!) an index.

In the book’s introduction, the author contends that there is a revolution in jewelry going on in the world and that “personal adornment is getting a makeover…” (pg.6). Part of this revolution has to do with recycling and reuse that is so popular now, but the cost of extracting and transporting precious metals and gems cannot be ignored either (pg.6). The introduction reminds the reader that there are techniques in the book that help veer away from the patterns and the muse speaks. I always like it when books are tools in a journey rather than just a pattern book to be accomplished.

A variety of techniques and skill levels are represented from no-sew to machine stitching, stuffing and quilting. Something for everyone!

The ‘Basics’ section gives some details on the qualities and characteristics of different kinds of fabrics including canvas, corduroy, silk, tulle and organza. There is some helpful information that might inspire quiltmakers to put some of these fabrics into quilts when they are done with their jewelry.
I liked the few paragraphs on needles. They were helpful and I learned a thing or two. Hand and machine stitching are covered. The basic hand stitches have illustrations showing the reader how to create them. As with many “basics” sections, not everything can be covered. Whole books on almost every topic in this section have been written. Still, this ‘Basics’ section has a good overview and will definitely get a person started.

You will need some metal for these projects. Clasps, earring findings, jump rings, etc are all covered: what they are, where to find them and whether you can make your own each have a place. After a few pages about tools, some fundamentals on metal, a list of supplies and two pages on beads, the projects start.

The book is well illustrated with color photos on nearly every page. the photos illustrate the text or give examples of jewelry by the artist-designers. The font is easy to read and the writing is clear.

Each project has instructions with illustrations. At the end of each project are a few photos of similar or related projects by which the reader can be inspired.

Tulle is used in an interesting way in the Floating Tulle Earrings project (pg.46-49). I like the pods in the Chrysalis Neckpiece (pg.54-57), but I imagine a mobile in brighter colors made from the pods. The flower int he Lotus Choker & Earrings project (pg.66-71) could easily be reimagined as a brooch, a hat pin, embellishments on a quilt or bag. change the color of the petals and the center and you have a completely new flower. Sun-Kissed Lemons (pg.112-117) is a lovely machine embroidered and satin stitched piece.

The materials are interesting, too. One project (Jennifer Halvorson’s Laced Up, 2005, pg.87, an example) uses shoelaces. Tweeds and plaid wool, recycled from men’s clothing is also used (pg.88-91)

I think there is an underlying sense of inspiration in this book that encourages, by implication, readers to move on quickly from the projects and only using them as a jumping off point.

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