Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: Handsewn

I know absolutely nothing about hand stitching. I avoid it like the plague. I purchased this book to overcome my ignorance and fear. After falling in love with the Great British Sewing Bee, I realized I needed to know how to sew by hand and I was so inspired by what the finalists were able to do without a sewing machine.

So here's what I needed the book to do: cover the basic hand stitches used in garment construction: basting, slip stitch, running stitch, overcasting, tailor's tacks and hemming stitches, etc. The book does all that plus covers more. There are more than 35 "Functional Stitches" in the book. I love the large step-by-step pictures. This book has more breadth, but not necessarily depth than The Complete Book of Sewing New Edition.

Since I'm even more clueless about embellishment, the book seems awesome in this regard. Again, the large pictures are wonderful. I had no idea there were so many different types of decorative stitches and techniques. This is Chapter 3 and consists of about 40 different stitches/techniques. There's even a directory of motifs!

The information on thread, needles and pins is thoughtful. Of course there is info about hoops and frames. There are a few topics in the book that are a nice surprise, but seem odd for a book on hand sewing: measuring for drapes and dressmaking, reading sewing patterns, estimating fabric requirements for dressmaking, types of zippers and info on pressing. Maybe it's just me.

It's a good, solid book. It is extremely well organized. (Within each chapter and subsection, stitch are presented in order of skill level.) Buy it more for the information on decorative hand sewing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Review: The Essential A-line: Make 17 Flirty Skirts from 1 Basic Pattern

Most of you reading this blog have no need for this book. It is really for beginners. Now, keeping its audience in mind, here's why I think it's a very nice book:

I bought the book was because it teaches you how to line the skirt. I am so frustrated about the lack of linings in RTW and the how-to in most skirt patterns. I really wanted an easy-to-understand reference for a lining and this book is it. 

The information is presented clearly. The photos are great! The author gives thorough instructions.  Just what you need in a sewing book, right? The skirt variations are cute. However, if I don't make a single one of them, the book is worth it for me. I just like having a skirt reference book.

I do think the book lacks in some areas. The first is fit. Although the pattern is sized to 20, there are no instructions for how to alter the pattern if you need a bigger size. What if you find that either the front or back hem is longer than the other? There's no info on how to resolve the issue. Good thing I kinda know how to adjust skirt patterns for me.

The book doesn't have any information about fabric choices or preparation. The one technique I wish the book included is how to use hem lace. The book has four options for hems: turned and stitched, rolled, bias and ruffled. I realize I'm being extremely picky.

Newbies should be able to get a quick win with this book.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Too Big

5.12 Update
Correct pattern arrived yesterday :-)  Pattern Review was kind enough to send me a coupon for my next pattern because of the error. I' start working the top next weekend.

5.09 Update
Decided to order the new pattern from Pattern It arrived last night. I was dutifully ironing the tissue this morning when I noticed that I was ironing L-XL-XXL. Crap! Pattern Review sent me the wrong size. There goes my easy weekend project. Now I'll have to think of something else.

Just finished the muslin for B5480. It's too big in the neckline - waaay too big. I made two attempts to insert the elastic into the casing. Did I stretch the neckline out that much? I tried shortening the elastic, but there's just too much fabric. *sigh*

Ruby is smaller than me, the top isn't as big on me in the hips.

I traced a large (my high bust is 37.5") and added at the bust, waist and hips. I think I hear Marta Alto in my head telling me to always use the smaller size because there's enough ease to get me to the next size. So, I'd like to add the same amounts to a medium. The sleeves could be lengthened a bit and I don't need the length I added in the back for my round rear. There's only one problem. I have to buy the medium pattern and that may not happen until Tuesday evening. Bummer.

On the bright side, I learned that there is little room for error in sewing a casing. I trimmed the seam allowances before sewing the casing, which I guess is a no-no. My narrow edge foot and I are back in sync. I also learned how to do a narrow hem. I might break out my rolled hem foot and give it a go on the bottom hem for practice. (Can you tell I've been watching the Great British Sewing Bee over and over again? "Give it a go." Really.)