7 DIY Must Reads for Summer


Some people bring a trashy novel to the beach, I bring a stack of DIY books.  I feel crafty in the summer. The sun is shining, and I just want to paint something (or stitch something or glue something or … ).  These are a few of my favorite crafty reads so far this summer.


Rebecca Rinquist’s EMBROIDERY WORKSHOPS: A Bend the Rules Primer by Rebecca Rinquist

If your satin stitch isn’t perfect, Rebecca Rinquist does not care. As a matter of fact, she probably would prefer it that way.

Sometimes embroidery can feel stuffy, calculated and overly meticulous — not this kind of embroidery. EMBROIDERY WORKSHOPS is definitely a bend-the-rules primer.

You don’t need a pattern, you just need a vision and some colorful floss. All of Rebecca’s work is inspiring and begs you to look at not only your stitches, but also your stitchable surfaces in a different way.

I love the way Rebecca takes vintage embroidered and cross stitched items and goes right on top of them with fresh designs.

Embroidery patterns and transfers are great, but not necessary. Why not just doodle with thread on cloth like you would pen on paper?

Experiment with shapes, size and color. Invent your own stitches. Stitch by hand, stitch with a machine, stitch on fabric or stitch on paper — in Rebecca Rinquist’s embroidery world there are no rules, and if there were as she would encourage you to bend them.

PLAYING WITH SURFACE DESIGN: Modern Techniques for Painting, Stamping, Printing and More by Courtney Cerruti

Courtney Cerruti is one of my favorite people I follow on Instagram. Her posts are always inspiring and her creativity seems limitless. Her latest book, PLAYING WITH SURFACE DESIGN, much like her Instagram feed does not disappoint.

In a day and age when paying money for a DIY book is often times second-guessed with the logic, “I could find a tutorial for free on the Internet,” this is a book worth buying. Sure, maybe you could find a tutorial for watercolor gift ribbons and nail polish marbled bangles online, but it is the imagery of the book that is so inspiring.

Not only are the finished projects gorgeous, so are the step-by-step images, the styling of the projects and the color palette Courtney chose to work with. All are part of the larger package with this book.

After Courtney has taught you how to use old credit cards, bubble wrap and JELL-O as art tools, you can browse through Chapter 3 for further inspiration on surface design with a gallery of amazing artists. I can see keeping myself busy (and my kids) for a good long while with this book.

Have you heard the rumors? Adults love coloring books just as much as kids. There is something very zen about coloring, whether you use a crayon, marker, colored pencil or gel pen.

The blank page can be intimidating, so these coloring books for adults are perfect. The arty designs are already there; all you have to do is mindlessly color.

Skyhorse Publishing has several new coloring books for adults coming out this summer. There is a coloring for everyone and a coloring for artists option (the latter being more a more complex design).

If you love zoning out with art projects like Zentangle, then add adult coloring books to your list. Perfect for long road trips, sitting poolside or side-by-side coloring with your littles during craft time.

Another added bonus of these books is that the pages are perforated. I always hated coloring sheets while they were still in the book as a child, and the same is true as an adult.

I LOVE PAPER: Paper Cutting Techniques and Templates for Amazing Toys, Sculptures, Props and Costumes by Fideli Sundqvist

I do love paper. When I was a little girl, I once went to a summer camp where we did a different creative activity every hour or so. I vividly remember being spellbound in the origami class and during paper making.

Forever after whether I was cutting and pasting a feminist zine in high school, scrapbooking pictures of my children or cutting out elaborate paper party decorations, I have loved paper.

When Fidel Sundqvist’s new book, I LOVE PAPER, landed on my doorstep I knew I was going to love it. I was right.

Given, the projects in this book are way above and beyond my typical paper adventures. However, I feel confident since there are very clear instructions and my favorite part – templates!

Paper shrimp cocktail, here I come!

I have to call out the gorgeous photography in this book. You could set this book out as a coffee table book for people to thumb through and look at the pictures.

HOT GLUE GUN MESS: Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects by Mr. Kate
When you flip open a DIY book, you don’t typically see chapters named “Hooker With a Head of Gold.” When you read HOT GLUE GUN MESS by Kate Albrecht, that is exactly what you get.

You get to read about Kate getting her first period in art class and then learn how to make fabulous watercolor curtains. Anyone who has ever crafted with a gaggle of ladies knows that somehow the conversations around the table usually deviate far from glue guns and glitter.

The tag line of the book is “Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects.” We can’t always have our ladies around us when we are crafting to swap stories and share a glass of pinot with, but Mr. Kate more than makes up for that.

The stories are indeed funny, and the DIY projects are (you guessed it) pretty. Pick up a copy this summer and learn how to make a no-sew tutu for yourself (every woman needs one) and read about how Kate used to babysit for her stepmom.

OH JOY! 60 Ways to Create and Give Joy by Joy Cho
I dare you to not feel inspired when you flip through this book. The cover alone makes me want to spray paint something gold and throw confetti in the air.

I promise you have not been to a soiree in the last year that was not in some way influenced by the work of Joy Cho. The colors, the projects, the styling everything in this book is impeccable and joyous.

One of the things I love about Joy Cho — whether it is her Instagram feed, her adorable items at Target or this book — is that everything she does makes me happy. In every picture of her, she looks happy. Crafts should make you happy, last time I checked.

The projects in this book are whimsical. If you like your DIY projects utilitarian, look elsewhere. But if you have a few spare minutes and want to add funky fabric to the soles of your shoes or perhaps paint a cantaloupe in ombre colors to act as a vase, invest in a copy of OH JOY! 60 Ways to Create and Give Joy.

MATERIALLY CRAFTED: A DIY Primer for the Design Obsessed by Victoria Hudgins
How many of us have Pinterest boards full of pins that we have never made? I know I just raised my hand.

Many times we get stopped because we are intimidated by materials we have never worked with: spray paint, clay and concrete can seem intimidating to even a well-seasoned crafter.

Victoria Hudgins of a A Subtle Revelry holds your hand through all these materials and more. With an experienced instructor guiding you through the process, it all seems less daunting.

Plus, the projects on the pages of MATERIALLY CRAFTED are so cute you are going to want to overcome those fears.

Plus, all of the adorable projects are marked with a skill level as well as a time estimate. You can work your way up to advanced temporary wallpaper projects by cutting your teeth on making tassel trim for a lamp shade. Endlessly inspiring with oodles of variations, tips and tricks.

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