A trio of new books filled with do-it-yourself projects will please crafters of all ages.
"Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter" by Mary Beth Temple (Taunton Press, $22.95) contains patterns and directions for crocheted clothing and accessories for the "curvy girl."
Crochet patterns for larger sizes are hard to find. This welcome collection includes cardigans, coats, jackets, wraps, scarves and bags. There are instructions for finding the shapes that will flatter, how to measure for the best fit and choosing the best yarn for the project. Ways to adjust the pattern to fit different sized women are included and set off in their own easy-to-find sections. Full-color photos of each project are given, as well as detailed assembly instructions. Every pattern is assigned a skill level and has suggested yarns and hook sizes. At the back are stitch diagrams, sizing charts, metric conversion help and a helpful project index with photos for quick access to favorite projects.
More information about the book and author can be found at the publisher's webpage at www.tauntonstore.com.
"The Fashion Designer's Handbook: Learn to Sew and Become a Designer in 33 Fabulous Projects" by Marjorie Galen (Workman, $25.95) is a fun way for girls to design their own doll clothes. The book is packed in a kit that includes a Barbie-sized dress form, fabric, thread and tape measure.
The book steps girls through the process of sketching ideas with a fashion model's proportions, learning about the characteristics of different fabrics, color and tools of the trade. The projects are written and illustrated in clear language, with step-by-step pictures, drawings and diagrams. Patterns to trace or copy are included. There's also a chapter on how to adapt what's learned to large-scale, so girls can begin making designs for themselves, too.
A reference section includes books for follow-up reading, suggestions for places to buy supplies and websites for patterns and information. Especially helpful are the pages of "mannequins" that girls with beginning drawing skills can use to draw their fashion ideas on, and later move on to drawing their own when skills improve.
The author encourages girls to post their designs and creations (with parental permission) on her website at www.marjoriegalen.com.
"Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children's Storytelling" by Emily Neuburger (Storey, $26.95) is a unique and beautiful book. Each of the projects are designed to help kids tap into their natural creativity with storytelling. The book is written to parents, teachers, therapists or anyone who spends time with children. Some of the projects are things adults will make for the kids to use in sparking storytelling, others are projects the kids themselves will make.
The book begins with why telling stories is good for people. It details how storytelling expands emotional awareness, develops language, communication and listening skills, strengthens connections with family and friends, solves problems and institutes moral thinking practices.
Each of the 40 projects lists how long it will take, what age can make it, what age can use it, whether it is used alone or with others, and the materials needed. Step by step instructions follow for creating the project, along with color pictures of the steps and of children using it. Examples include a story grab bag, a magnetic story board, story dice and a traveling puppet theater. Most of the items needed for all the projects are commonly found.
Tucked inside is a "Create a Story" wheel that kids can turn to create characters, settings and events for instant storytelling.
The book is written with clear, concise language, aimed at the adults who will be guiding the children, with charming photography on every page. An extra nice addition is full-color, fold-out backdrops that can be removed from the book and used for puppet shows.
This book can be the beginning of endless hours of creativity for both kids and the grown-ups who spend time with them.
More information can be found at www.storey.com.
Margot Hovley's first novel, "Sudden Darkness," was published by Covenant Communications in fall 2012. Her self-reliance blog is at www.mynewoldschool.com or read about her writing adventures at www.margothovley.com.