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The Big List of 25+ of the Best Craft Books

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Tracy Shapley Towley

Staff Writer

Tracy is a freelance copywriter, all-around ne’er do well, very-adult graduate of the University of Iowa, and occasional waterer of plants. Her hobbies include writing fiction, reading fiction, mixing together various flavors of soup, and typing letters to her friends on an old red typewriter that doesn't have a working period so all sentences must end in questions marks or exclamation points? She has read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and has a lot of thoughts on them. Her old Iowa farmhouse is shared by her husband Sean, a pair of cats, a pair of dogs, and the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut.

I spent the first 40 years of my life as a wannabe crafter. Crafting looked cool, craft books looked cool, but for some reason I did not think it was for me. Some of my reluctance came from a place of knowing that I’m not really very good at crafting or art or anything visual.

These skills don’t come naturally to me and inevitably, when I tried to make things, the things I made did not come out looking anything like the thing they were based on. Sadly, this kept me from following through on my urges to sew curtains and paint furniture and embroider dainty napkins.

Then I turned 40 and this switch magically flipped in my brain and all of a sudden I was like, “Wait, why do I care of I’m ‘good’ at things??” and now I do SO MUCH CRAFTING that I have to write about it in all caps or you won’t get the extent to which I do crafting!

It started with lots of in-person classes at Public Space One, my local “artist-led, community-driven contemporary art center” where I took typesetting, letterpress, and printing classes. Then I moved on to crochet and sewing classes at the adorable Home Ec. Workshop. I quickly realized that I absolutely did not have to be “good” at things for it to be fun to make things, plus I’m not as bad at making things as I thought.

And then the pandemic hit. In-person classes were canceled right when I had an enormity of time on my hands. And that’s when I discovered the joy of craft books. They’re fun to flip through when I want a little inspiration, and they’re great for filling in my gaps of knowledge or teaching new skills altogether.

Thankfully, at the same time that I started getting my learn on from craft books, Art Office popped into existence and I took advantage of its 12-week virtual art-accountability awesomeness. I connected online with lots of makers who helped me make things. It was great; it is great – I’m still doing sessions, two years later!

So here we go: 25 of the best craft books I’ve found.

School of Sewing Cover

School of Sewing: Learn it. Teach it. Sew Together by Shea Henderson

The first sewing class I took was called School of Sewing and it was based off this book. Most of the craft books on this list will be geared toward makers but this book is meant both for those who want to learn and those who want to teach. The idea behind the School of Sewing project is for a group of makers to get together to learn how to sew one thing each session. There are 12 projects in this book and it’s set up so that you could meet once per month for a full year, with each maker having a finished project to take home after each session. They start off fairly simple with a basic pillowcase and each project adds a new skill like adding zippers, mitered corners, etc. I had an instructor to help me through the first few projects in this book and I don’t know that as a truly beginner to sewing (I did not know what a bobbin was, let alone how to thread one) how much I would have gotten out of it without that instructor. But if you have the basics down, this is a great book to help you add skills one at a time.

Ultimate Crochet Bible cover

Ultimate Crochet Bible: A Complete Reference with Step-by-Step Techniques by Jane Crowfoot

There are nearly a dozen books in the C&B Bible series, which, to be clear, is using the term bible as in “a book regarded as authoritative in a particular sphere.” This particular tome covers everything you could possibly want to know about crochet — and boy does it cover it. In my experience, crocheting is a particularly difficult fiber art to learn via book but this monster of a book does an exceptional job. The information is wisely laid out, with options to find answers to specific questions or to just read through and learn as you go.

The Magic Mesh cover

The Magic Mesh by Sigalit Eshet

If you’ve got a bunch of broken plates or other broken ceramics around, then this is a great book to ensure you can make use of them. Eshet, author of many books on the art of the mosaic, takes you step by step as you learn how to take your old, broken things and turn them into new, purposefully flawed and beautiful artifacts.

Japanese Pottery Handbook cover

The Japanese Pottery Handbook by Penny Simpson, Kanji Sodeoka, and Lucy Kitto

First published more than 40 years ago, this book is a classic for a reason. With a practical, step-by-step approach that’s perfect for beginners, this is the definitive guide for a beginner who’s interested in learning more about pottery.

How to Build Bookcases cover

How to Build Bookcases & Bookshelves: by Scott Francis

If you’re a reader who’s also interested in woodworking, I don’t know why your first projects wouldn’t be bookish in nature. This is a great resource that includes plans for 13 bookcases in various styles, along with instructions on how to make a magazine rack and a desktop sliding book rack. By the time you’re done, you’ll have plenty of room to store all your books about crafts!

The Ceramic Process cover

The Ceramic Process: A manual and source of inspiration for ceramic art and design by European Ceramic Work Centre

Considered by many to be the definitive guide on all things ceramic, this book teaches about the history of ceramic, the technology behind it, and the latest developments, alongside inspirational photos, deep dives into various techniques, and a whole lot more.

Wise Craft cover

Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love by Blair Stocker

So far the craft books I’ve mentioned have focused on honing a specific skill but in Wise Craft, you’ll learn a lot of different techniques with one common thread (haha, see what I did there??): using up stuff you already have. This book is great fun and also helps get rid of all the “stuff” you have around that you want to do something with. Here you’ll find lots of solutions to the conundrum of how to make the most of stuff you love but that doesn’t have its own place.

Metalsmith Guide to Jewelry Making book cover

Metalsmith Society’s Guide to Jewelry Making: Tips, Techniques & Tutorials For Soldering Silver, Stonesetting & Beyond by Corkie Bolton

The first piece of jewelry I made was a friendship bracelet made from discarded embroidery floss. The jewelry you’ll make after reading this book was much more advanced — and much more badass. This is the ultimate guide to getting started in the world of jewelry making.

Crochet for beginners cover

Crochet for Beginners : A Stitch Dictionary with Step-by-Step Illustrations and 10 Easy Projects by Arica Presinal

As the name suggests, this is a true book for beginners. If you have never picked up a hook before — hell, if you don’t even know what I mean by “hook” — then this is the book to get you started in the wonderful world of crocheting.

Cover of playful peg looming

Playful Peg Loom Weaving: A modern approach to the ancient technique of peg loom weaving by Stephanie Fradette

As the title implies, peg looming is indeed an ancient tradition and in this book, Fradette provides an excellent introduction. Chock full of 17 different projects, readers and makers can experiment in various color palettes and try out new techniques. You’ll also find a deep dive into the various fiber options for this type of weaving, plus DIY resources to truly make your project your own.

Print, Pattern, Sew cover

Print, Pattern, Sew: Block-Printing Basics + Simple Sewing Projects for an Inspired Wardrobe by Jen Hewett

You don’t have to sew your clothes from scratch to make your own wardrobe, as evidenced by the techniques taught in this book. Hewett provides in-depth and easy-to-follow tutorials on block printing on fabric, plus the basics on how to sew your amazing block prints on existing pieces.

Needle Felting for Beginners cover

Needle Felting for Beginners: How to Sculpt with Wool by Roz Dace and Judy Balchin

I was recently tasked with trying to explain to my husband what felting was. As a true beginner to the craft, I don’t yet have the language to explain it as though I were explaining it to an alien. There was a lot of, “Well, it’s like, really fuzzy?” and similarly uninspired attempts. Which made me all the glader when this book arrived and I was able to create some cool little wool folks to be best friends with.

The Act of Sewing Cover

The Act of Sewing: How to Make and Modify Clothes to Wear Every Day by Sonya Philip

Speaking of making your own clothes, The Act of Sewing is a badass newish book about both making clothing and modifying your own clothing to make it something you love to wear every day. With a focus on alternatives to the environmental devastation caused by fast fashion, Philip shows us that we can avoid endless consumerism AND wear clothes that make us feel great.

The Modern Natural Dyer cover

The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen and Cotton at Home by Kristine Vejar

One cool thing about reading a lot of craft books and getting inspired by them, is that you’ll never master everything. Even if you read all the books about sewing in the entire world and perfect every stitch there is, you can branch out in amazing ways. Case in point: learn to naturally dye your own fabrics from home or wherever your rest your weary bones.

Bead Embroidery cover

Bead Embroidery: Chinese-Style Flower Jewelry by Yu Han and Yuxi Wang

I love embroidery and this specialized, delicate technique takes it to the next level. Uniting Chinese and Western embroidery techniques, this book is full of projects created to be practical and useful. The first few projects are simple enough that just about anyone could complete them, with much more challenging projects found further in the book. As such, it’s a great option for readers and beaders of all skill levels.

Bend the Rules Sewing cover

Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew by Amy Karol

I’m a person who generally follows the “rules” a few times to see what they’re all about, but eventually finds ways to skirt or bend them when possible. For fellow adventurers, Karol has made it easy to know which rules actually should be followed and which can be bent to your will. She’s done the “hard work” of flying off the rails a few times and is here to let you know just how high you can safely fly before you run into real trouble.

Book cover of Tomoko Fuse's Origami Boxes

Tomoko Fuse’s Origami Boxes: Beautiful Paper Gift Boxes from Japan’s Leading Origami Master by Tomoko Fuse

If you’re interested in origami, you really can’t go wrong with any of the many books by Fuse. I love this one in particular because not only does it teach a unique craft, but the result is eco-friendly packaging for all the gifts you’ll be crafting up for friends and family. Double score!

Papermaking cover

Papermaking: How to Make Handmade Paper for Printmaking, Drawing, Painting, Relief and Cast Forms, Book Arts, and Mixed Media by Jules Heller

This step-by-step guide includes instruction from various artists, each with their own specialty. With plenty of pictures, tips for perfecting your papermaking, and lots of inspiration to create your own style, this is a comprehensive papermaking tome.

Sewing Love cover

Sewing Love: Handmade Clothes for Any Body by Sanae Ishida

I have a very large body and though I love to sew, it can be hard to figure out how to turn a pattern for a smaller body into a pattern that works for mine. This book shows you how to draft patterns and sew clothes that fit the unique body of every individual. Even better, the photos of finished products include diverse models of various body types and sizes, so you can actually get an idea of how different types of patterns fit different types of people.

Jane Austen Embroidery cover

Jane Austen Embroidery: Regency Patterns Reimagined for Modern Stitchers by Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin

Did you know that in addition to being a talented wordsmith, Austen was also a talented embroiderer? This book starts with popular patterns from her era and includes fascinating commentary on daily life in that period. Some of the patterns in this book had not been in print for more than 200 years until featured here.

Flowers Forever cover

Flowers Forever: Sustainable dried flowers, the artists way by Bex Partridge

I’m very lucky to live in a magical house we bought from a woman who did a lot of gardening. She planted stuff that shoots up through three seasons and it’s always exciting to see what flowers are next to bloom. I’ve used this book to dry some of those flowers to create incredible centerpieces. The process is both simpler than I thought and also offers more complexities to learn than I would have imagined.

Urban Quilting cover

Urban Quilting: Quilt Patterns for the Modern-Day Home by Wendy Chow

There are pretty close to a billion craft books on quilting but many of them focus on older patterns and more traditional color schemes. Not so with Urban Quilting. There are 10 total designs, each of which can be made in three different sizes for a total of 30 patterns. Chow has worked hard to include everything a beginner needs to know, with easy to scan instructions for advanced quilters who are ready to get started.

Book cover of Mister Rogers Knitting the Neighborhood

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Knitting the Neighborhood: Official Knitting Patterns from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

You can create your own replica of your favorite Mister’s neighborhood, complete with puppets and trolly by following the instructions in this book. But for my money, the best part of this book is the series of patterns to make his iconic cardigan in adult, baby, and pet sizes.

The Little Artists Big Book of Activities cover

The Little Artists’ Big Book of Activities: 60 Fun and Creative Projects to Explore Color, Patterns, Shapes, Art History and More by Shannon Wong-Nizic

Whether you’re a parent of a kid, a friend of a kid, or a kid at heart, don’t think I forgot to add some craft books for kids! This huge book of activities has a little bit of something to let little ones dabble their toes until they find the craft(s) that get their creativity cooking.

Knitstrips cover

Knitstrips: The World’s First Comic-Strip Knitting Book by Alice Beltran and Karen Kim Mar

The very first comic-strip knitting book, this book is not just fun to look at and fun to follow — it’s straight up funny. If you want your craft books heavy on the chuckles and light on the stuffiness, then this is the winner you’ve been looking for. While geared primarily for current knitters, beginners might find a pattern or two to follow amongst the 22 included projects.

Me and the Boss Cover

Me and the Boss: A Story About Mending and Love by Michelle Edwards and April Harrison

Some of the best craft books don’t teach you about crafting — they teach you about life through crafting. That’s what you get in Me and the Boss, a story about a brother, Lee, who wants to learn to sew, and his sister, Zora, who is not shy about letting you know that she’s the boss! The illustrations here are very sweet and lovely and I love the message it sends that perseverance pays off — and that through sewing and making, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

Looking for even more craft books? Check out other Book Riot coverage of the Best Pottery Books, start your woodworking journey with the Best Woodworking Books for Beginners, learn the art of knitting with the Best Knitting Books, and combine your love of crafting and reading with Literary Cross Stitch.