Review: Material World by Perri Lewis

When I heard that the woman who brought craft to the Guardian’s website had written a book on the subject, I was rather excited. I was a big fan of Perri Lewis’ craft column and even blogged about it back in 2010 when I found a few useful tips and some comments from people who don’t know what a running stitch is. Well, those people will be pleased to know that they still don’t need to ask Google for tips on that, they can buy Perri’s fab new book instead!

Material World is described as ‘The Modern Craft Bible’, which is a bold claim, but one that I think it lives up to. These days we don’t want masses of intricate instructions that we have to wade through, or pages of details on how to complete the sort of tedious craft project even our grans would have avoided. We want a handy reference guide. One which provides: the basics for those who never learned it at school (I attended a rather traditional all-girls school and so, as you might imagine, all my textiles needs were fulfilled), suggestions on kit to buy, tips on getting started and hints from the experts. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve faffed about with something only for a more experienced friend to show me a shortcut I didn’t know existed. This type of information is a keen crafter’s secret weapon.

Perri begins the book with some basics – essentials and luxuries for your sewing kit, building a stash of materials, and techniques to get you started. She then moves on to a section on ‘unlocking your creativity’, which is great for helping those of us who think we need a pattern for every project to realise that there’s so much more we could do without one. We can all be creative people with a bit of help and background knowledge. Then there are 15 sections, each devoted to a different craft. From embroidery to jewellery making, printing to leather work, and each of these chapters come with a list of materials, tips on getting started, a list of common problems, a masterclass from two ‘insiders’, a mini project to try and a few extra bits and bobs. The experts she has spoken to are people you’ll have heard of too – including Emma Bridgewater, Tatty Devine, Grayson Perry, Rob Ryan and Philip Treacy. These people know their stuff! In addition, there’s extra inspiration dotted throughout, which all helps to make it one of the best crafting books I’ve seen.

Some of the content will be second nature to experienced crafters, but it’s always good to have a refresher and I very much doubt that everyone will know every method used in this 224 page book! It’s always useful to have a reference guide, and I usually find that there’s always something new you can learn, even on a topic you already know a lot about. So, what I’m saying is, you’d better get this book on your wish list now! Buy it, ask for it for Christmas, nag your mum/best friend/sister and don’t stop dropping hints until you get a copy. If you’re a keen crafter (or want to be), this book really will be your bible.

Material World: The Modern Craft Bible by Perri Lewis is available now from Amazon for £13.29.

DISCLOSURE: I was sent a copy of Material World: The Modern Craft Bible by Perri Lewis free to review by Ebury Publishing.

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