CoBloWriMo – Aug 6 – Book recommendation

CoBloWriMo - Costume Blog Writing Month

CoBloWriMo – Costume Blog Writing Month

For today’s Costume Blog Writing Month challenge, the prompt is “book recommendation”. I’ve blogged about costuming, crafting, beauty, and quilting books in the past, so I had lots to draw from for this challenge…

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Largess notebooks

Notebooks for largess

Notebooks for largess

At the May 2015 Tavern, “Bryjna” was teaching a class on bookbinding using the “Secret Belgium Binding” method. I’ve taken one other bookbinding class before (years ago, back in 2005) and this was a totally different method. She provided us with all of the supplies, with the request that we make one for ourselves, and five more to donate as Largess. I suspect she might have meant at the upcoming Coronation at that point, but honestly I just couldn’t get my craftiness together in time for that (not with also trying to put together my henin and a dress…)

So, finally in August I finished off the last of the books. I ended up trying a few different methods of doing the binding while experimenting with the general technique, and found that the later ones were much more “solid” feeling than the originals. One thing I did was cut down the width of the spine; I found it felt better with a smaller rather than wider spine. I’d probably keep the brown one for myself, if it wasn’t for the matte board spine, which I don’t really like compared to the pretty rice-paper covered front and back “Bryjna” created… so I’ll likely donate all 6 for largess when the opportunity presents itself. (None of the events I’m going to in the next little while are requesting largess, so I’ll wait until a request is made…) Plus… my main persona has no use for a book!

Drilling holes in the covers for the books

Drilling holes in the covers for the books

In class we did use an awl to punch holes in the front and back covers (and pages) for the stitching, but I found that VERY tedious, so when I was doing the remaining 5 at home, I opted to clamp them all together with the template, and used a rotary drill with a small drill bit instead.

While our instructor’s notes came from a Calgary Board of Education convention notes, you can also find the method here on Hollanders: or Herringbone Bindery: which has a few differences, including suggesting the inner covers go in after the binding – a look I kind of like.

The Steampunk Bible

linked from - please click for the original or to order.

I placed an order at the public library a while back for Jeff Vandermeer’s The Steampunk Bible: An illustrated guided to the world of imaginary airships, corsets and goggles, mad scientists, and strange literature.  I had to wait quite some time for it, and of course when there are other holds – it means you can’t renew the book.  This, combined with my hectic schedule and lack of time to really curl up with this information-packed book means that I am not able right now to really review this book.

I honestly just haven’t gotten through it yet!

Music, television, fashion, jewelry, accessories, weaponry, film, books, sub-genres, theatre, events, costuming, illustrations, fantastical creations, makers, crafting, electronics, graphic novels, and I’m sure a few other dozen topics I missed are included in this book.  There are clear, well-lit photos, great illustrations, excellent resources, and interesting profiles.

I hesitate even posting about this book without giving it a thorough review – but at the same time I didn’t want it to get lost in my own personal chaotic shuffle.  I’ll be putting it on order, and hopefully in months to come when things calm down a bit (hmmm I’ve been saying that for several months now, haven’t I?) I’ll be able to come back and give this book a more detailed review.  I will say just to start that it is not ‘easy’ to read.  Normally even with a crazy schedule I can find the time to flip through a few pages, find the information I’m looking for, and then get sucked into reading until the wee hours of the morning.  Despite my attempts at the same, this has not happened yet with this book… I have the impression that there is perhaps just TOO much information included for me to absorb at this point in time.

So, instead in the meantime I’ll link you to two other reviews, one glowing review entitledThe Steampunk Bible Should Be On Every Nightstand” from, and another more critical view from

Have you read it?  What are your impressions of the book thus far?  Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review:The Secrets of Fashioning Ribbon Flowers

Image from Chapters/Indigo. Sorry if the image breaks in future - click for original or to purchase.

So, I’m still on the hunt for a good book that can teach me more about ribbon cockades and ribbonwork, in particular for millinery.  However, while there are a lot of books with instructions about ribbon flowers, there doesn’t seem to be much on what I’m really looking for at this point.  Boo!

The Secrets of Fashioning Ribbon Flowers by Helen Gibb is exactly that – a book on making fake flowers from ribbon.  The book has clear illustrations and inspiring examples (mostly of examples using a LOT of individual flowers = time-consuming!) but the focus is entirely on flowers.  The book starts off with some background, history, and supplies, then goes into individual flowers (sweet peas, cherry blossoms, gardenias, fuchsias, roses, etc.) and then into projects – bouquets, framed bouquets, lampshades, wreaths, topiary trees, broaches, pillows and more.

It’s a well-written and well-organized book.  While a few of the designs relies on having access to a certain kind of ribbon or fabric (ie: off-white bias cut pink/peach ombre-dipped frayed silk for the carnations), many of the designs are shown in a variety of materials – for instance the folded roses are shown in a simple fabric ribbon, a metallic striped ribbon, and a metallic sheer ribbon – which I really appreciate because it shows how the same style can look very different when made up in something less than the expected fabric.

However, despite how good the book might be – it’s still not what I’m personally looking for.  However, if you’re on the hunt for a good ribbon-flower-making book, with clear examples and good inspiration, consider picking this one up.

Book Review: The Splendor of Ribbon

Image linked from Amazon, sorry if the link breaks in future! Click for original

While looking for ribbon working books, there were also a bunch of books I didn’t find as useful for what I was looking for, such as The Splendor of Ribbon published by Ofray (a ribbon manufacturer) written by Ellie Schneider.  The book starts out with a bit of history about ribbons, and then goes into general techniques.  While the techniques are illustrated –  the illustrations and instructions don’t really help one another, and are somewhat confusing.  I’m sure that some trial-and-error could be used to work out what the instructions are getting at – but there are other books out there that are far less confusing.

There are a number of projects in the book, ranging from tiny pillows to lampshades to decorative mini topiary trees.  There is also a section on gift wrapping and a bridal section with a number of projects.  Each of the projects refers back to the general techniques however, which makes the possibility of recreating the projects more difficult.

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t recommend this book (certainly not sight-unseen).  Maybe check it out in-store first, or see if your local public library has it before making it an addition to your personal craft library.