Sewing Fiction: 5 Book Recommendations for Fabric Lovers

Community member Constanze (@tree.textiles) is back with us to share her recommendations for favorite sewing fiction books! Constanze is passionate about many things: eco-conscious quilting, quilt alongs (check her IG for the soon-to-be-announced Fall Finish Along 2020 #fallfinishalong), quilty books, art quilts — oh, and also non-quilting things — like fall, family, and getting through the pandemic. You might remember Constanze from her last FGF contribution,  7 Tips for Making Memory Quilts.

Welcome back, Constanze!

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Sewing Fiction: 5 Book Recommendations for Fabric Lovers

by Constanze of @tree.textiles

Of course, we all wish that we could sew all day and everywhere, but sometimes the creative muse escapes us; or we need to be somewhere that we can’t bring a sewing project (although, shout-out to English Paper Piecing for accompanying me anywhere, from the playground to pre-Covid plane rides!). But there is something that helps with quilters’ block and other situations where we wish that we could sew, but can’t: reading about textile fantasies!

The following is a list of books I have read and loved, featuring fictional fabric goodness:

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

The maybe-cold-blooded-murderess Grace Marks recounts her tragic story as an immigrant to 1800’s Canada and life as a domestic servant. Each chapter features a quilt block reflecting Grace’s story. Some graphic details, but lots of dreaming about making your own sampler based on the blocks, guaranteed!

Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett

Traveling to 15th century London, this story intertwines the lives of two silk merchant daughters with historical facts and myths about the bloody rise of Richard III to the throne. The descriptions of the silk goods and weaving process are – almost – as good as petting some fabric IRL.

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Meanwhile, in France, Chevalier (who is probably best known for her interpretation of the origins of The Girl with the Pearl Earring), invents an equally intriguing backstory for the beautiful unicorn tapestries now displayed in Paris. (Although, for any East Coaster, there is a similar, equally stunning series of tapestries on display at the Cloisters in NYC). Lots of loving descriptions of weaving and yarn, color, and courtship.

The Elm Creek Quilters series by Jennifer Chiaverini

A classic, and for a reason! This series is the equivalent of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) for me: really sweet, and you just want more. Good thing there are 21 (!) books in this series (so far), following the family and group of friends surrounding the entrepreneuring women of the fictional Elm Creek Quilt Camp. Lots of historical facts and fiction, as well as more modern stories of life and love, with detailed descriptions of traditional and contemporary quilt blocks.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Another less high brow read! While the idea of a lonely woman’s ghost coming back to haunt a hapless woman and nearly destroying her love life and career doesn’t sound too fun, Kinsella, known for the Shopaholic series, takes this concept and makes it readable, relatable and funny. Textile fans will appreciate the caring descriptions of vintage fabric. May be time to thrift for your next quilt after reading this *wink, wink, nodge, nodge*

Thank you so much for this sewing fiction roundup, Constanze. For more from Constanze, check out 7 Tips for Making Memory Quilts and follow her on Instagram!

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