Celia Pym "First One’s the Best" 2014

The Best Books to Give (and Get) this Holiday Season

When researching some of the top books for the year, I starting thinking about the main themes that surface when people talk about contemporary textiles. Some of the main ones that have arisen include: digital textiles, natural dyeing, and sustainable fashion. This roundup features the best books to give (and get) in 2015 and includes critical dialogues around textile culture, some beautiful catalogues from SAQA and ATA, as well as multiple books about slow and sustainable fashion.

1) Advanced Textiles for Health and Well-Being
By: Marie O’Mahony
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Price: $50.00 via Thames & Hudson
“The world’s most creative designers and engineers are working together to develop high-performance fabrics that are sustainable, fireproof, anti-bacterial, soundproof, sun- and even shark-resistant. From medical implants to space fabrics, advanced textiles have the potential to transform human habitats and transportation, protect the environment, and support personal health and well-being.”


2) The Handbook of Textile Culture
Editors: Janis Jefferies, Diana Wood Conroy, Hazel Clark
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Price: $164.00 via Bloomsbury
“The handbook offers an authoritative and wide-ranging guide to the topics, issues, and questions that are central to the study of textiles today: it examines how material practices reflect cross-cultural influences; it explores textiles’ relationships to history, memory, place, and social and technological change; and considers their influence on fashion and design, sustainable production, craft, architecture, curation and contemporary textile art practice.”

The Handbook of Textile Culture

3) The Modern Natural Dyer
By: Kristine Vejar
Publisher: STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book
Price: $29.95 via A Verb For Keeping Warm
“Demystifying the ‘magic’, Vejar explains in explicit, easy-to-follow detail how to produce consistent, long-lasting color. With stunning photography of the dyes themselves, the dyeing process, and twenty projects for home and wardrobe, The Modern Natural Dyer is a complete resource for aspiring and experienced dye artisans. Books ordered through Verb come autographed by Kristine and include a naturally dyed bookmark.”


4) Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabric
By: Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman
Publisher: Laurence King
Price: $40.00 via Laurence King
“We are on the cusp of a revolution, where the intersection of technology, the human body, and everyday objects will become completely seamless. Smart textiles are a key part of this revolution. A survey of specific fabrics grouped by properties provides a core reference section and a palette for the designer to work from. The book also examines five different design approaches and features interviews with leading designer and design teams, showing their processes and working methods.”


5) Zero Waste Fashion Design
By: Timo Rissanen and Holly McQuillan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Price: $31.17 via Bloomsbury
“[Zero Waste Fashion Design] offers flexible strategies and easy-to-master zero waste techniques to help you develop your own cutting edge fashion designs. Sample flat patterns and more than 20 exercises will reinforce your understanding of the zero waste fashion design process.”

Zero Waste Fashion Design

American Tapestry Alliance (ATA) published two different exhibition catalogs this year:
6) American Tapestry Biennial 11 2016
Price: $22.00 (members) / $24.00 (non-members) via ATA

ATB 11 cover

7) Tapestry Unlimited 11 2016
Price: $12.00 (members) / $15.00 (non-members) via ATA

Tapestry Unlimited cover

8) Biomimicry for Designers
By: Veronika Kapsali
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Price: $60.00 via Thames & Hudson
“The natural world contains infinite examples of how to achieve complex behaviors and applications by using simple materials in a clever way. As we begin to exhaust the natural resources we rely on to create our products and environments, designers are increasingly turning to nature—where organisms make use of limited raw materials to survive—for inspiration about how to invent fascinating solutions to everyday design problems. The importance of biomimicry—manufacturing materials that imitate life’s natural processes—has been known for years, and designers have often looked to nature for formal solutions.”

Biomimicry for Designers 9780500518489

9) Mark-Making in Textile Art: Techniques for Hand and Machine Stitching
By: Helen Parrott
Publisher: Batsford
Price: $25.30 via Batsford
“At its very essence, textile art is about mark-making. This fascinating book shows how marks can be used in textile work, both simple and complex, and explores the crossover between stitch and drawing. It covers both hand and machine stitch, which make very different types of mark and between them offer limitless potential for mark-making, used both separately and together. It aims to help you take inspiration from the world around you to create marks, develop your own mark-making skills and strengthen your personal creative voice, and is an essential book for any textile artist.”


10) Laser Cutting for Fashion and Textiles
By: Laura Berens Baker
Publisher: Laurence King
Price: $40.00 via Laurence King
“Laser cutting is the latest embellishment technique to appear on the runway. The book explores how to engineer designs and harness laser technology to upcycle fabrics, replicating traditional finishes as well as developing new ones. Each project is created in Adobe Illustrator and includes step-by-step instructions for creating the design for the laser cutter, followed by instructions for cutting and sewing.”


11) Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics
By: Safia Minney
Publisher (paperback and limited edition hardback): New Internationalist
Price: $19.95 via New Internationalist
“Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics is a 360-degree view of a fashion world that is changing, from the cotton fields to the cities. It features contributors from campaigners, innovators, fashion influencers and eco concept stores worldwide.”


13) SAQA – Portfolio 23
Price: $29.95 via SAQA
“Portfolio 23 contains images of artwork from 230 of SAQA’s Juried Artist Members. We have included indexes of the artwork sorted by artists’ locations and by genre. Genre categories include abstract, conceptual, figurative, landscape, nature, representational, and sculptural.”


14) SAQA – Turmoil and Tranquility
Price: $20.00 via SAQA
“Turmoil and tranquility can be experienced on a global scale as in war and peace, or contrasting thriving ecosystems versus those imbalanced by careless use. There can be a tumultuous experience or a calming one. But they also can describe intensely personal experiences, such as the calm of meditation or being stressed out!”


– Lauren Sinner

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