Posted in Stylish Books

Favourite tips (and inspiration) from favourite sewing books

I can’t lie. I’m a bit of a nerd. I always have been and always will be. But I’m not apologizing. I love a good book, and good books about sewing and fashion have pride of place on my bookshelves. I was pulling a couple last week when I thought I might share some of my favourite tidbits―for a bit of instruction and a lot of inspiration. Here they are.

Barbara Emodi’s book, Sew…The Garment Making Book of Knowledge (I reviewed it in a previous post and highly recommend it), is required reading for anyone who sews.

Not only is it instructive, but it also contains the wisdom that can be cultivated only in someone who is passionate about this sewing journey and has been on it for decades. Here are my favourite tips from her book.

Here are my favourite bits from her words of wisdom:

  • “If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t make it.” This is an extraordinarily useful piece of wisdom. Why is it that we look at a pattern sometimes and think, I should make that despite it being utterly useless in our lives? My penchant for making dresses comes to mind.
  • “Sew for other people only if you decide you want to make them something.” I rarely sew for others, but when I do, it’s because I’ve decided to try something out for my husband or son. In my younger years, I sewed my sister’s wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses (the horror of all that satin I would never have chosen), a prom dress for another sister (miles and miles of stretch fabric to make a Vogue designer dress). You don’t get to make the design and fabric choices, which is where the problem lies.
  • “Keep trying new things [styles or trends], but don’t let it override your good sense of what does and doesn’t suit your body and your life.” Good sense never goes astray in my life!
The dress my sister wanted for her high school prom. Not my choice, but I made it for her!

Linda Lee’s book, Sewing Knits from Fit to Finish, was my go-to when I returned to sewing and began sewing with the new knits. Here are my favourite bits of wisdom from her book.

  • “It is important to understand the compatibility of your pattern and fabric. You could make the same pattern in five different fabrics, and it would probably fit five different ways.” Amen to this one. I think that this might be one of the most challenging concepts for new sewers to understand. If a pattern is designed for a fabric with a specific amount of stretch (or non at all), the design itself would have included the amount of ease necessary to accommodate it (ease=the amount of room a garment has in it beyond the body measurements. A very fitted design for knits fabrics might even have negative ease meaning that it stretches over the body rather than skimming it.)
  • “Knits are best cut out in a single layer of fabric.” Dear god, I know this is true. Why is it that I ignore it so often? I know why. Sheer laziness. These days, I often cut out my knits in a single layer, especially if they’re thin. However, pontes and other stable knits can be treated like wovens and cut out double layered. But I do need to keep repeating this as a kind of mantra. Single layer. Single layer. Single layer.

And finally, Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr’s book, A Stylish Guide to Fashion Sewing, is great fun and loads of inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, here are my favourite “quoted quotes” that they sprinkle throughout the book.

  • “Dressing well is a form of good manners” ~Tom Ford
  • “It’s not about the dress you wear. It’s about the life you lead in the dress.” ~Diana Freeland

I find a good book endlessly inspirational and frequently extraordinarily  instructive. Happy reading! (and sewing!)


Why, oh why, do I keep making dresses??

Author:

...a Toronto woman of a ‘certain’ age who writes women’s fiction and business books...deeply interested in fashion, but mostly style, which as anyone knows is not the same thing...designs patterns, sews, reads style books...Gloria Glamont is my pseudonym.

4 thoughts on “Favourite tips (and inspiration) from favourite sewing books

  1. Because there is something intrinsic to you in a dress! Whey do I keep making shirts and blouses? Same reason probably. I don’t need any more but same principle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so true, isn’t it? My husband tells me that I have two halves: the GG one here on this blog who loves to dress up and the PJP one of my writing and university work who is all-business, no-nonsense and loves a good suit! These days, however, a really great cashmere sweatsuit would probably be more useful! 🙂

      Like

  2. Those bits of wisdom are all wonderful and timeless. I enjoyed reading them. For almost 10 years, I lived only 2 blocks down the street from Linda Lee’s shop, but I almost never went there. My sewing efforts were focused in a different direction at that time, which is so unfortunate I now realize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve actually taken two of her Craftsy courses a few years back when I wanted to learn more about sewing knits. Linda Lee is a great teacher on camera. Yes, timeless words of wisdom! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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