I've found a lovely book by Natalie Chanin that I thought I would share with you. It's called the Alabama Stitch Book and it really is a treat to read. The bulk of the book is how to take simple cotton jersey, from recycled T-shirts, and "upcycle" them into new garments, using basic hand stitches and stenciling/applique techniques.
Sprinkled throughout the book are stories of the impact of outsourcing, NAFTA, cotton growing, and shrinking employment for textile workers. Sounds like a downer? It isn't. It is fascinating and written with warmth and understanding. Ms Chanin sprinkles in recollections from those who lived through the Great Depression, favorite local recipes and tips for making the projects. The projects themselves are comfortable, stylish and accessible for people with basic hand stitching skills. Never learned to sew by hand? No problem - the stitches are broken down and illustrated. The projects are well explained and templates are provided for all the stencils and appliques suggested.
If you are more into reading than doing, you can check out her website and see the new 2008-2009 Fall Collection. Spendy, but lovely. The book is available from the author or at Amazon.