Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: Simply Irresistible Bags

Simply Irresistible Bags: 45 Designs for Going Out, Looking Chic, and Shopping Green
by Marie Claire Idees
Published in 2008
ISBN: 978-1-57076-403-5
Some Chapter Headings:
  • Simply Stylish
  • Urban Chic
  • For Children
  • Storage
I liked:
  • The Whimsically Retro Bag (page 18), the Artist's Satchel (page 42), and Off to the Orchard (page 80).
  • That so many of these bags require skills I don't normally use. What a great way to learn how to dye fabric, punch leather, or perfect your running stitch.
My dislikes:
  • I found that most of the bags lacked structure.
  • The templates looked difficult to enlarge. You are given a set length that needs to be enlarged to a certain length, but it doesn't give percentages, so you have to do the math!
Conclusion: This book has some neat ideas, but I didn't love anything. I checked it out from the library, and since I wasn't planning to make a purse, I didn't actually try any of the patterns. Would I buy this book for myself? Nope. Should I decided later that one of those purses catches my fancy, I'll check it out again, but no need to spend money on it--unless you love bags! Would I buy this book for a beginner? Absolutely not. It assumes that you already have advanced beginner to intermediate skills.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book Review: The Vogue and Butterick Step-byStep Guide to Sewing Techniques

The Vogue/Butterick Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques by the editors of Vogue and Butterick Patterns Published in 1989 ISBN: 0-13-944125-5
Some Chapter Headings:
  • Applique
  • Bindings
  • Collars
  • Facings
  • Gussets
  • Linings
  • Overlock
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Yokes
I liked:
  • The quick, easy-to-use format. They certainly don't waste any words. The only text not in a tutorial is the opening page, where the book is explained.
  • Opening any one of the 47 sections to find well-illustrated instructions on sewing techniques.
  • The "Binding" section. It starts with a quick tutorial on making your own binding strips and then covers those icky situations like turning corners and neatly joining binding.
  • The information in the "Layout" section that covers cutting plaids and stripes. It includes gentle reminders like, "Avoid placing a heavy, dominant horizontal stripe at the bust line or waistline." (page 209) Sounds like really good advice to me!
  • The "Pocket" section. I wish I'd had that information the first time I tried to make a self-faced pocket. The illustrations are very clear.
  • That this book even includes a section on "Shoulder Pads". Should they ever come back into high fashion, I'll know just where to turn!

My dislikes:

  • The "Lining" section
  • No "invisible zipper" reference
  • The entire book is dedicated to garment sewing. Sure some techniques could cross-over into home decorating, but all the examples illustrated are garments.
Conclusion: At first glance, this was one I wanted to put back on the shelf. But, as our local branch of the library has such a limited selection, I figured I better at least have a second look. I'm so glad I did! This book is one to have on your shelf if you are moving toward an advanced beginner and intermediate sewing level. Not every sewer has mastered every technique, so having a quick, well-illustrated guide is quite handy. While I had the book for 2 weeks, I managed to use the sections on: Binding Buttonholes Collars Edge Finishes Gussets Hand Sewing Layouts Pressing Vents Would I buy it for myself? I have it "Saved for Later" on my favorite book-buying site. But, I'll probably pass. At least, as long as I can find it on the shelf at the library. Would I buy it for a beginner sewer? Maybe. This is definitely a great addition to the library of an advanced beginner.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Review: Sew U

Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe by Wendy Mullin with Eviana Hartman Published in 2006 ISBN: 0-8212-5740-4
Some Chapter Headings: Getting In Gear
Chop, Chop
I liked:
  • That the book is very easy to read.
  • The wonderful inspiration for "designing your own" based on a pattern.
  • The notions and supplies chapter because she points out that you don't have to have much to get started and encourages you to wait until you know what you need before investing.
  • The "Anatomy Lesson" defining and describing pattern pieces.
  • Page 82 that has an excellent explanation of thread tension and why it is so important.
  • The Project Ticket Form
My dislikes:
  • The section on measuring yourself is not detailed and only includes instructions for measuring bust, waist, and hip. In my experience, using only these 3 measurements leads to ill-fitting garments and loads of frustration.
  • I found the A-line skirt pattern to be almost a pencil skirt.
While this book isn't as thorough as other "Complete Guides..." it certainly has its place. I personally picked up the book because the look of it appealed to me. And, the book is actually quite detailed for the beginner, describing and explaining techniques that more intermediate and advanced sewers would take for granted: stay-stitching, stitching direction, finishing seams, topstitching, understitching, and even sewing on a button!
Another feature that appealed to me: the book includes 3 patterns. While only the skirt has worked for me, the shirt and pants provide new options and can be a jump-start for a new sewer. That said, the limited measuring instructions and virtually no fitting information are potential roadblocks in sewing your own wardrobe.
Would I buy it for myself? I do own this book and I've made the skirt several times and in several ways.
Would I buy it for a beginner sewer? I whole-heartily recommend this book to a tween, teen, or even 30-something beginner--as long as they have a fitting resource (like a very, very good friend) handy.