Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book review: The Magic Pattern Book

Amy Barickman, of Indigo Junction Patterns, has put out a pattern book for women with 6 basic patterns, made up into 36 different styles.  However, the owner of this book is far from limited to the 36 ideas.  The patterns really are timeless and can be worn in a classic style or easily updated to mimic current styles in stores.  Amy shows you a few variations that are popular currently, but I can easily see where these could be adapted in the future to newer styles coming out as most "new" styles are still based on the lines of classic items.  Once you are shown the basic and her modifications, you have experience modifying and can take off from there on your own. 

The book would probably be best for someone with at least minimal sewing experience, but the author does not assume anything either.  Very basic finishing techniques, etc., are covered quite adequately.  Beyond that, this author takes on needle choices, fabric choices, hemming techniques and even making your own bias tape in a very easy manner.  I love that part.  Items are also shown sewn up in different fabrics so you can see the differences it would make, and fabric suggestions are given as well.  She doesn't stick to just cottons or more items, but covers some woolens and bamboo mixes too, which are more and more readily available in yardage.  She also covers using repurposed fabric, a fabulous current trend. 

In addition to modifications to the basic patterns, the book does cover common fitting issues encountered, including how to properly measure yourself, and includes a measurement recording area in the book for you to put your own measurements, aiding you in fitting the original base garment and any modifications. 

Both the written explanations and directions are clear, as are the illustrations for garment construction, similar to any good sewing manual or good pattern instruction sheet. 

The pictures are inspiring; no ugly "old person" fashions to be seen.  And, hey, I'm not terribly young so I don't mean disrespect there but I have to admit some of the sewing patterns out there are shown in very unfavorable fashion even when worn by a gorgeous young model.  These styles in the book are worn by beautiful but varying age and shape women, and each one looks wonderful.  That says a lot. 

I rate this book 5 stars based on the content of the text.  I received a complimentary ecopy via Netgalley for review.  I did not have access to the patterns themselves to make up and try.  However, I have used Indigo Junction Patterns in the past (the pattern company by this author), and have found them to be very well designed patterns.  Therefore I do not hesitate to recommend it based on prior experience with Indigo Junction Patterns as for the basic fit.  I have preordered this one, and will update after publication hopefully when I start to make these up.  I can't wait!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sewing for Boys: Buckles and Bobbins

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My son (age 11 now) developed an interest in sewing a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, he did not develop any patience to go along with it, so his sewing efforts have thus far been pitiful to say the least.  Sewing is not a speedy hobby, at least not in the beginning that is for sure.  He is a book learner to the core, so I started my hunt to find him some sewing books to aid my hands-on teaching.  Needless to say, the choices among books for teaching a boy to sew are few, or at least they were a couple of years ago.  [Anyone know of newer choices?]

We got a couple generic learn to sew books for kids to show how a machine worked, how to thread a needle, how to straight stitch and so forth (to reinforce the hands on componenent), and one complete with shapes to sew over to practice curves and basic manipulation of paper (leading to fabric manipulation while in the machine of course).  But then we had a lack of progress in terms of real projects beyond a pillowcase or other super simple things.  Most "first project" stuff really appeals more to girls (simple skirt and so forth).

Then I came across this book, geared for older boys.  It is a bit pricey honestly, but I have nothing but praise for the content.  It is a complete first sewing course with projects, and  not all of them are super super simple.  They truly put some thought into what would appeal to a boy, especially an older boy, and then taught them how to make it.  I think boys especially need a final product to be interested at all, and a pillowcase is not going to cut it.  Zach does not want to sit down and practice stitching with nothing at the end, or practice putting a button on nothing.  He needs a garment.  So boys will practice a zipper in an actual bag they want to use, or a cargo pocket on a fun pair of pants. 

This book has pull-out, full-size pattern sheets.  The kids will need to learn to trace off the size they need for the garments (size 8-16!!!!) on paper or whatever tracing medium you are using, then do the project.  The instructions for the projects are clear and concise, simple without being dumbed down.

We haven't made all the projects, but one we use repeatedly is the PJ pant/short pattern and simple V-neck, scrub-style PJ top with a simple facing.  Since his patience is low, I have taken over the sewing of these most of the time, but your child would have little to no trouble doing the pants on his own, slightly more with putting in the facing on the neckline of the top, but still very doable.  The pants have a modification from PJs to daywear with a pattern add-on of side pockets and/or leg cargo pockets. 

Again, I have nothing but praise for the very existence of this book to help boys, especially older boys, learn to sew with projects of interest to the age group.  The content is good, clear and simple without being overly simplistic.  They can create projects or gifts.  Fit on the garments for stated sizing may be a bit generous but not awful, and very compatible with other typical envelope patterns.  5 stars for this one!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: Skirt-a-Day Sewing

I received a copy of this through Netgalley.

This book begins as if it is for the very very inexperienced seamstress, as if you will be sewing your first projects ever.  It describes basic sewing equipment, types of needles, types of threads, woven versus interlock materials, etc., in very great detail with clear and pretty pictures.  It explains seam allowances and several types of seams, several types of hems, inserting a zipper, etc.  The diagrams are clear, information adequate.

The reader than goes about creating a sloper from measurements.  This again is described to a novice.  You are recommended to create your muslin sloper, which will then be used for all the other skirts in the book.  The information is accurate, though I would have liked to see more actual fitting advice as this book is so much geared for the novice.  There are some common problems that may come up in fitting, where some diagrams could be helpful, such as sway back, body shape issues, adjusting for protruding tummies, etc.

Chapters thereafter describe changes to your sloper to create the various skirts in the book.  What I love is that there truly are several variations described that give quite different looks, and many of them simulate "ready to wear" styles with exposed zippers, interesting seaming, etc.  There is a whole lot more here than the basic pull-on versus zipper in the back versus A-line that so many skirt books have already done.  These truly area interesting variations for your basic sloper.  However, given the focus of the book towards the very novice seamstress, I'm a bit concerned that someone would be overwhelmed trying to create some of these variations as they involve at times a skilled hand at sewing, e.g. the one with the curved asymmetrical darts.  Even the example picture has some puckering at the darts, and a novice might end up frustrated with final his/her attempts at that.  It's a fine line between enough of a challenge and a completely frustrating learning experience in the beginning.

Some of the skirts also show some challenging fabrics, such as working with velvet or aligning stripes, and I feel not enough information is given to the reader to be able to handle the nap on the velvet or the alignment of the stripes confidently.  If this book were geared towards the moderate to advanced seamstress I would expect no extra help in that regard, but again the introduction and preliminary chapters make it clear this is geared towards the novice.  As such, some more information on the fabrics chosen would be helpful to give the reader the very best chance of duplicating the project.

So, I give this book 4 stars as a moderate seamstress, but I would not recommend it to my most novice friend as I think she would be frustrated at the turnout of the projects if using only this book as a guide.  I give it 4 stars because it is so very visually appealing (Storey publishing always has the most visually appealing books IMHO), and appeals to a modern woman (up to date styles).  I love that it does not require pattern sheets with the book but rather teaches you to draft your own sloper.  This gives you ultimately endless possibilities for variation (showing you several of course in the book).  I do highly recommend it for those with at least basic sewing experience as a fun book. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kwik Sew 3423

Kwik Sew 3423 by WeeBeaks
Kwik Sew 3423, a photo by WeeBeaks on Flickr.

Today's project was a nightgown for Eden. I used Kwik Sew 3423, which I have owned quite a while. The fabric was some given to me, and turned out perfect IMHO for the nightgown.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

For a trade

For a trade by WeeBeaks
For a trade, a photo by WeeBeaks on Flickr.

I'm still sewing consistently, just not blogging as much! :)

This was for a trade (I get a table runner!). Top is Ottobre 1/12, skirt Ottobre 2/04 and leggings from Sewing Clothes Kids Love book. I love how this one came together.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Knit summer dress

Knit summer dress by WeeBeaks
Knit summer dress, a photo by WeeBeaks on Flickr.

This also is from Ottobre 3/08. See my last post regarding sticking with one issue and seeing what I can do.

Well, maybe a cheated just a little. The 3/08 dress is for a woven, including the attached panty. I used an interlock knit, so downsized the pattern. Interlock is considerably thicker than the suggested voiles and batiste suggested for this dress, so I already had a thick bodice/skirt seam. The original pattern had a gathered top of the attached panty and was baggier. That wasn't going to work well. I finally merged this pattern with the bottom half of the bodysuit pattern from Ottobre 3/10, which is a slim onesie-type shirt. That worked very well. The top of the attached panty (red in the photo) is only the exact width of the bodice, so adding as little bulk as possible.

I also lengthened the skirt portion of this by 4 inches as the original showed the panty. It is meant for a crawling baby or early toddler, so a long skirt would be a big hindrance. Eden walks well so could have a longer skirt.

Ottobre 3/08 top and pants

IMG_1011 by WeeBeaks
IMG_1011, a photo by WeeBeaks on Flickr.

I've been sewing but not blogging. Of the two, I would rather sew. However, since I love reading blogs, I share what I make too.

I'm trying a new thing. I always feel I'm underutilizing my Ottobre magazines. I have all the kids issues from 2003 to present in English and some of the older issues in other languages. There are just so many wonderful patterns and so little time though that I jump around here and there, whatever catches my eye. To change it up, I picked an issue (3/08) and am sewing and sewing (and sewing) from that one issue. It is time efficient in that I'm not pulling things out and putting back. Most of all I feel I'm really utilizing an issue.

Both the top and ruffle shorts are from 3/08, both for Eden. Someone gave me the cotton woven (it is actually a nice teal, not as dark as the photo) long ago. I'm glad to use it. Just this week someone mailed me a surprise package of trims, and the purple bias is from that (thanks Crys if you are reading!). The knit for the shirt I actually purchased, but this was the last little remnant of it, barely enough for a little toddler shirt.