Book Reviews Summer 2014
Complete Dressmaking Skills – Lorna Knight
This book is a really in depth reference guide covering everything you could want to know about dressmaking, aided by step by step photos of all the techniques. As well as giving advice on tools, fabrics and the common dressmaking techniques such as zips, seams, hems, pockets, tucks, collars, sleeves etc it also goes a step further than most dressmaking guides and has a section on couture techniques, and one on customising clothes as well.
There’s a good index in the back so you can go straight to the technique you need, plus a troubleshooting guide in the last chapter. Furthermore there is also a section on working with patterns including altering patterns or making your own. The book is supported by several online videos as well.
I think this book would make a great addition to your sewing library, I will certainly be keeping my copy close to hand!
Quilt Colour Workshop – Fat Quarterly
The editors of Fat Quarterly e-zine have clubbed together for their second quilting book. This book is a guide to understanding colour and how to use in in your projects. The first section introduces you to the colour wheel and talks you through using it to decide on colour combinations which will work perfectly for your quilts.
The rest of the book consists of projects showcasing the colour theories, in section divided by colour. The projects include full size quilts, table runners, a cushion, a bag, and a sewing machine cover. Some of the blocks used are made up in several different colour combinations to encourage you to experiment with different colour schemes.
There is a techniques section at the back of the book, as well as full size templates for all the projects. The projects themselves have written instructions plus a combination of diagrams and photos to guide you. If you want to get more experimental with the colours you use in your sewing or quilting projects I’m sure this book will help guide you.
This book is published by David & Charles and can be purchased here.
Elementary Sewing Skills – Merchant & Mills
This is a little handbag sized reference guide to the most common sewing skills needed to construct garments. I spoke to the author, Carolyn Denham, and she said she wanted to tackle the most basic skills you need to sew clothing. Instead of showing you 10 different ways to do a seam she will show you the most used. So that rather than overwhelming the reader with information she is giving the simplest solutions to common sewing tasks.
The skills tackle the making of a garment from start to finish, from understanding the pattern to doing the finishing touches like adding buttons. Despite the small size of the book (around A5) it has large colour photos and big diagrams to explain the methods covered. It is not like some smaller books where the information feels crammed in and is barely legible.
A great follow on from their first book, ideal for beginner stitchers.
Casual Sweet Clothes - Noriko Sasahara
This is a Japanese clothing book containing 18 full size pattern sheets in the back. Although it says the clothes as casual, and indeed many of them are, I think you could easily wear several of these garments into the office as well.
The clothing includes a few different styles of dress, casual trousers and shorts, a jersey top, jackets and blouses. The patterns are sized from XS to large. I checked the measurements online against those on a ready to wear clothing site (ASOS) and it says they are the equivalent of a size 6 to size 12. The instructions, although accompanied by diagrams, are fairly brief so you would need a good level of sewing knowledge to be able to follow them. There is no techniques guide in the book so it is assuming you know how to sew different types of seams, hems etc. This isn’t a book for beginners, better suited to intermediate/advanced stitchers.
The garments themselves are pretty trendy and fashionable, I think most people would find at least 3 or 4 they would want to make from the book making it better value than buying the patterns individually.
101 Little One Yard Wonders – Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins
This book is part of the 101 projects series and has projects to make for children, babies and for parents. There are a huge amount of ideas in this book from kid’s clothing projects (for boys and girls), to soft toys, several different types of bags, some for the children and some for the parents and useful things like baby sleep sacks, car organisers, toy storage etc.
The book is spiral bound so it’s easy to keep open on the page you want, plus there’s a huge pack of pattern sheets in the front for the projects. Each project is spread over a few pages with cutting instructions, step by step sewing instructions, diagrams and photos to guide you. There is also a guide to the techniques at the front of the book, and a few more in the glossary at the end.
I also like the section at the back that tells you about all the contributors and their blogs/sites so you can find out more about them and see other projects or tutorials they have written.
Check out our previous book reviews here.