Picking up a new book or two is a great way to dig into the long and varied tradition of Black craft. Here are a few selections to add to your list. Do you have other favorites? Please add them in comments.

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Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles, a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” weaves history and storytelling together in her examination of a heartbreaking piece of history: a sack that an enslaved mother, Rose, gave to her nine-year-old daughter, Ashley, when she was about to be sold.

Later, Ashley’s granddaughter embroidered the story on the sack itself, preserving the story and the human side of a horrific chapter of history in a way that only handwork can.

Lisa Gail Collins

A look at one quilt in the beautiful, unique tradition of Gee’s Bend quilts, this book offers a great gateway into learning more about the history of this place and its inhabitants.

(And check out the collaboration between Gee’s Bend and Target.)

Kyra E. Hicks, illustrated by Lee Edward Födi

A true story for children, this book is a fascinating narrative of a formerly enslaved girl who worked for fifty years to create a quilt and find a way to England to personally thank Queen Victoria for patrolling the Liberian coast and preventing people from being kidnapped back into slavery.

A quilter herself, author Kyra E. Hicks has written numerous other books on African-American quilt history and contemporary African-American quilting, including Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook.


Jen Hewett

A collection of essays, articles, and interviews collected by author and multitalented designer Jen Hewett in the wake of the craft community’s reckoning with racism in 2019, this book showcases the experiences of women of color today in the craft industry.

Listen to an interview with Jen Hewett on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast.

Edited by Marita Dachsel and Nancy Lee

Another collection of essays by artists and makers from all types of fiber arts, this book centers the perspective of people of color.

The essays, which range from analytical to lyrical, offer a variety of perspectives on art, craft, and the power of ordinary stitches to convey deeply personal truths.

Craft Books

Hekima Hapa and Lesley Ware

Authored by founder of the nonprofit Black Girls Sew Hekima Hapa and author, educator, and fashion personality (and CIA member) Lesley Ware, this empowering handbook is a great introduction to sewing with a focus on fashion for aspiring designers.

Listen to an interview with Lesley Ware on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast.

Bianca Springer

A bright, colorful craft book with great photography and a wide variety of designs and stitches that reflect many different people—truly something for everyone.

Listen to an interview with author Bianca Springer on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast.

Toni Lipsey

Crochet has a rich history as an African-American craft. This handy book is an excellent introduction to Tunisian crochet, with step-by-step photos for a variety of stitches and twenty projects that you can start today.

Listen to an interview with Toni Lipsey on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast.


Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by James Ransome

With gorgeous illustrations, this poignant children’s story imagines a young sewist gathering and stitching clues to make a map that leads her to her mother.

Kwana Jackson

These two rom-coms follow the four Strong brothers who inherit Harlem yarn shop Strong Knits after their mother dies. In addition to the wonderful representation of men of color in the knitting world, these books lovingly portray the uniquely safe space that local yarn shops offer their communities.

Valerie Flournoy, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Beautiful watercolor paintings accompany this story of a grandmother sharing her skills with her granddaughter, who assembles a quilt full of memories with the help of her family. A Coretta Scott King Award winner.

Art Books

Maude Southwell Wahlman

An enormous collection of 150 quilts, this book is a fascinating exploration of how African-Americans have used African symbols in quilts for generations.

Bisa Butler

A collection of Bisa Butler’s strikingly detailed quilted portraits of African-Americans in everyday life. In addition to showcasing her use of bright colors and African textiles, this book includes commentary by the author herself on each piece.

Stacy I. Morgan and Yvonne Thomas Wells

This hefty coffee table book comes out in September and is filled with images of a remarkable contemporary artist’s story quilts along with her own commentary on their meaning.

Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial was a unique artist who used scraps of fabric and other everyday materials to create remarkable bricolage works of art.

This collection of 43 photos of his work, inspired by and connected to the Gee’s Bend quilts, also includes essays by the curators of his collection at the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ashley Bryan, photographs edited by Rich Entel

A collection of puppets by award-winning artist and storyteller Ashley Bryan, who lived on Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine. Bryan collected “beach junk” to create his two-foot-tall puppets imbued with African folklore.

Each puppet is accompanied by a poem in this collection. Bryan is the author and illustrator of dozens of children’s books and received numerous Coretta Scott King awards as well as a Newbery Honor.

Alicia de los Reyes

Alicia de los Reyes


Alicia de los Reyes is a freelance writer who loves to make things. She has her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of New Hampshire and her work has appeared in the Billfold, the Archipelago, Sojourners Magazine, and others. See more of her work at aliciadelosreyes.com.

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