27 Textile Books to Read Instead of Going to the 4th of July Barbecue

Summer is in full swing and while everyone else is gathering round the barbecue, you just want to sit in a hammock with a glass of lemonade and a good textile book. Well, we don’t blame you. Just in time for summer reading, we have rounded up a selection of textile related books, from mending to natural dyeing to conscious wardrobes. All of these books have been published since we last rounded up a summer reading list, and as you can see, there is plenty of new material to devour.

Have a favorite textile book that we haven’t included? Tell us about it! Or share on Instagram #summeroftextilebooks.

Textiles and Fashion

Fashion Fibers by Annie Gullingsrud
For fashion students and designers looking to make conscious designs about the textiles they are using, this is an essential reference book. Drawing upon the cradle to cradle philosophy and industry expertise, the book introduces readers to the fundamentals of fiber production and the product lifecycle, featuring a fiber-by-fiber guide to natural fibers including cotton, hemp, silk, manufactured fibers including polyester, modal, azlon, as well as covering
processing and promoting recycled fibers that are designed to be circular.

Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More, By Katrina Rodabaugh

Mending Matters explores sewing on two levels: First, it includes more than 20 hands-on projects that showcase current trends in visible mending that are edgy, modern, and bold—but draw on traditional stitching. It does all this through just four very simple mending techniques: exterior patches, interior patches, slow stitches, darning, and weaving. In addition, the book addresses the way mending leads to a more mindful relationship to fashion and to overall well-being. In essays that accompany each how-to chapter, Katrina Rodabaugh explores mending as a metaphor for appreciating our own naturally flawed selves, and she examines the ways in which mending teaches us new skills, self-reliance, and confidence, all gained from making things with our own hands.

Fashion Law & Compliance by Deanna Clark-Esposito
Whether you’re an academic or working on starting your own fashion line, this book has something to offer, explaining the laws related to fashion compliance including, labeling, marketing, testing, importing and exporting, record keeping, and more.

On Weaving (New Expanded Edition) by Anni Albers
First published in 1965, this book is a classic. As one of the twentieth century’s leading textile artists, Anni Albers’ insight is timeless, offering a complete perspective of the world of weaving, as well as discussing how technology and mass production place limits on creativity and problem solving.

Related story: 10 Labor Rights Books That Will Make You Think Differently About Where Your Clothes Come From

Queer Threads by John Chaich and Todd Oldham
Explore an international, intergenerational, intersectional mix of thirty artists who are remixing fiber craft traditions, such as crochet, embroidery, quilting, and sewing, while reconsidering the binaries of art and craft, masculine and feminine, and gay and straight.

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design Edited by Rachel Beth Egenhoefer
Have some time on your hands with nothing else planned? Dig into this rich reference book, which considers the design, not only of artifacts, but of structures, systems, and interactions that bear our decisions and identities in the context of sustaining our shared planet.

Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse: Three Stories of Sustainable Design by Susan Brown and Matilda McQuaid
How do we deal with the staggering issue of textile waste? This book presents the work of three designers who put sustainability at the heart of the design process: Luisa Cevese, Christina Kim, and Reiko Sudo, showcasing their innovative and sophisticated reuse of textile materials that we can all take inspiration from.

Sewing Hope: How One Factory Challenges the Apparel Industry’s Sweatshops by Sarah Adler-Milstein and John M. Kline
What does an alternative to sweatshops truly look like? Sewing Hope brings us the story of The Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic. This is the anti-sweatshop, offering a living wage three times the legal minimum, high health and safety standards, and a legitimate union. It is the only apparel factory in the global south to meet these criteria.

Slave to Fashion by Safia Minney
Bringing together the stories of the men, women and children caught in slavery to make our clothes, Slave to Fashion documents not just the realities of slavery in the fashion industry, but what brands and designers need to do in order to ensure slave-free fashion.

Sustainable in Stilettos by Tracey Martin
Author and sustainability thought leader Tracey Martin brings us into the world of sustainable fashion, challenging us to choose a different path forward. The book serves as part style guide part encyclopedia of all things sustainable fashion in 2018.

Sustainability and the Social Fabric: Europe’s New Textile Industries by Clio Padovani, Paul Whittaker
When we talk about sustainable textiles, so often the discussion is about industry, materials and practices. But Clio Padovani and Paul Whittaker take a more detailed look at the social and cultural aspects of a sustainable textile economy, shifting our focus away from just the materiality of textile production to the industry’s relationships with the communities from which the products originate. From Harris Tweed in Scotland to luxury woollen mills in Italy,
the book explores how European centers of textile manufacturing have moved forward since the 2008 economic crisis, each rebuilding the social fabric of their communities.

The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and The School of Making by Natalie Chanin
While other books of Chanin’s have focused on garments or projects, this one is solely devoted to stitches, breaking down embroidery stitches into different geometric grid systems. This helps to simplify even complex stitches, and the book is a reference for more than 100 of them.

Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press
Ok, so this book is a little older than the time parameters we mentioned above, but it’s worth having on your list regardless, and the paperback version just came out this spring, perfect for beach reading. Using her expertise as a fashion journalist, Press explores the history and ethics behind what we wear, examining the entire fashion ecosystem, from sweatshops to haute couture, unearthing the roots of today’s fast fashion, where we’re quick to buy and quick to throwaway. She traces the origins of icons like Chanel, Dior and Hermès; charts the rise and fall of the department store; and follows the thread that led us from Marie Antoinette to Carrie Bradshaw. And if you’ve got one of those lazy summer days where you don’t want to read, Press has a podcast too.

Society, Culture and History

Design for Life: Creating Meaning in a Distracted World by Stuart Walker

How do we move forward in a sustainable way? Often we look to technology and modern culture for the answers, and yet, that modern culture, focused on technological progress, growth and the future, is often what is at the core of our problems. Design for Life offers a different approach, demonstrating the importance of solitude, contemplation, inner growth and the present moment in developing a different course, offering a positive, hopeful look forward.

Dressing the Soul | Ageless Beauty by Birgitta de Vos
This book of photography and poetry is a visual meditation, a touch of silence, a touch of humility. Textiles appear throughout, magically paired with visuals of nature. Consider it your dose of summer calm and reflection.

Fray: Art and Textile Politics by Julia Bryan Wilson
You may be well versed in Stitch and Bitch, but have you ever heard of the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society? Formed in Eugene, Oregon in 1974, this mock organization envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc. This was far before the use of the word
“craftivism” and the organization helped to highlight the links between textiles, politics and society.

Huntsville Textile Mills & Villages: Linthead Legacy by Terri L. French
In the early 1900s, Huntsville, Alabama, had more spindles than any other city in the South. Cotton fields and mills made the city a major competitor in the textile industry. Entire mill villages sprang up around the factories to house workers and their families, demeaningly referred to as “lintheads.” A world fraught with slavery, child labor, and factory fires, this was a hard life. French honors these forgotten workers by telling their story and the legacy that they left.

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair
A compendium on color and the history of our favorite hues. Textiles are inherently interwoven in this story of 75 unusual colors that span fashion and politics, art and war.

Wool: Unraveling an American Story of Artisans and Innovation by Peggy Hart
Wool has kept Americans warm for centuries, and this books tells its tale from colonial times to present. It’s a story of the lives impacted by the commodity – artisans, inventors, immigrants, merchants, mill owners, millworkers, slaves, Native Americans, farmers and advertisers – as well as the technological and social changes along the way.

Women Artisans of Morocco: Their Stories, Their Lives by Susan Schaefer Davis
This book captures the textile traditions of Morocco through the stories of 25 different women, spinning wool, weaving rugs, embroidering intricate designs, all while preserving their heritage and culture.

Natural Dyeing and DIY

Indigo: Cultivate, Dye Create by Douglas Luhanko and Kerstin Neumuller
This book takes a deep dive into using the mythical, yet common, color of indigo, covering everything from growing your own indigo plants to different methods of dyeing.

Modern Macrame by Emily Katz
If you’re in need of some summer projects, this is the book for you. Emily Katz gives you all you need to know to bring some more handmade textile flair into your home (you need that, right?)

Natural Dyeing with Plants: Glorious Colors From Roots, Leaves & Flowers by Franziska Ebner
Based in Salzburg, Franziska Ebner has been dyeing with plants for over 30 years. In this book she compiles her vast wisdom, showing how to choose and prepare fibers, picking dye plants, as well as sample projects for dyed fabric.

Print, Pattern, Sew by Jen Hewett
Have you been thinking about finally committing to a handmade wardrobe? Let Jen Hewett be your inspiration, guiding you through block printing and sewing clothing that expresses your style.

The Mender’s Companion by Nina and Sonya Montenegro
Use your summer vacation to get back your mending skills. In this beautiful zine, the Montenegro sisters show you the basics of all forms of mending so that you can attack that pile of slightly damaged clothing and bring it back to life.

The Natural Colors Cookbook: Custom Hues For Your Fabrics Made Simple Using Food by Maggie Pate
For food and fiber lovers out there, here is the book where the two intersect. Pate runs Nåde, a small batch textile company, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She often dyes with food products and food waste, and in this book she shows you how to do it yourself. You’ll be collecting food scraps to dye with before you know it.

The Wild Dyer by Abigail Booth
This book is meant to inspire not just natural dyeing, but making as well. Learn to forage and grow your own dye plants, and then use the fabric for an array of projects including an apron and a reversible patchwork blanket.