In Stitches by Amy Butler and Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter are both recently published by Chronicle Books and each include 20+ projects that can be sewn for anyone's home. Lotta's book has a definite Scandanavian look - all linen and simple/primitive prints. Amy's book has a definite retro look - all cotton and rich, bold, colorful, complex prints. I purchased both of these about a month ago and have had a wonderful time looking at their beautiful photographs.
Lotta's projects are simpler to sew with clean lines and wonderful fabrics. Amy's patterns are much more complex and the instructions can go on forever. Both books seem to have had the instructions written by the same people and use similar terms and layouts. Both also have full size patterns in a pocket at the front of the books. Neither of these books are for someone who has never sewn before but there are quite a few descriptions of basic techniques. Amy does give credit to a whole cadre of pattern writers and testers as she is much more of a designer.. which is probably why her patterns are so complex. Lotta appears to be much closer to the actual sewing of her designs.
I probably would not have purchased either of these books if they weren't so beautiful. There's something about a book that feels good to hold and use that always speaks to me. There are Flickr groups out there that is sewing all of the patterns from both books. The posters are very frank in their critiques of the patterns. For instance, the Simple Sewing hat project caused several of those who made it to comment on the fact that they couldn't see out from under the rim while those making the In Stitches bathroom caddy were bemoaning the overly complex 19 step process.
I think my flurry of sewing related book purchasing will stop for a while. If you are looking for sewing books for others, I would recommend Amy Karol's bend-the-rules Sewing for those who haven't sewn a lot; Simple Sewing for someone who knows how to sew and likes clean design lines; and In Stitches is definitely for those who are fans of Amy Butler's complex fabrics and patterns.
Weather Update: It turns out that Houston is on the 'dirty' side of Tropical storm Erin so it has been raining a lot around here. As the rain has been coming in bands, my area has not seen any flooding however those who live more to the south and west of me have been having a much harder time of it. If Hurricane Dean comes along the middle of the projected track we will again be on the 'dirty' side. I hope we get a few dry days between these storms so I will have a chance to clean up after muddy puppes before I need to do it again.