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37 Reviews
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple patterns, needs better instructs. for a 'beginners' book & more sizes
I bought this book mainly because I really wanted the pattern for the dress on the cover and also because I'm a beginning sewer. I was happy to find that I also liked at least half of the other patterns in the book but unfortunately they only provide patterns for up to size 12 (Bust: 37", Waist: 29", Hip: 39")and no instructions for adjusting the patterns for larger...
Published on April 19, 2009 by Jenny C.

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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars beautiful designs, terrible instructions
i bought this book because I thought the designs might be nice, and in that regard it did not disappoint. You will probably pick up this book and want to make everything from it. Unfortunately, unless you have made lots of garments before, the instructions are fairly useless. The author tries to describe what to do without a diagram, and usually does not add enough...
Published on April 30, 2009 by Jen


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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple patterns, needs better instructs. for a 'beginners' book & more sizes, April 19, 2009
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I bought this book mainly because I really wanted the pattern for the dress on the cover and also because I'm a beginning sewer. I was happy to find that I also liked at least half of the other patterns in the book but unfortunately they only provide patterns for up to size 12 (Bust: 37", Waist: 29", Hip: 39")and no instructions for adjusting the patterns for larger sizes.

The written instructions are mostly text with minimal illustrations/pictures, I expected more illustrations for a 'beginning' sewing book, especially since some of the written instructions (and some of the illustrations) were kind of vague and hard to follow. UPDATE: I just tried to make one of the jackets from the book and because the book doesn't give any illustrations for how the pieces should be cut out of the fabric, I wasted a half yard of fabric when I was forced to re-cut a sleeve out. I may have to lower my rating, that was a huge disappointment/frustration for a novice sewer.

All this said, I was able to complete a 'Baby Doll Shirt' in one night and with acceptable results given my basic sewing skills. I look forward to either learning how to adjust patterns so that I can make these patterns in my size, or losing enough weight so that I can use the patterns as printed.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for intermediate "seamsters", May 9, 2009
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I am a self taught seamstress and consider myself to be intermediate in skill. With that being said, I think this book would be most beneficial to the intermediate crowd. It is a hardcover/spiral bound book, all color with a pocket on the front cover that contains all the pattern pieces you will need. The garments included include dresses, skirts, coats, and tops. The first chapter includes basic instruction and supplies you will need if you are a beginner (which is great) and the following chapters contain the patterns. Each pattern is rated in difficulty from 1-5, includes the amount of fabric you will need (in both 45" & 60"), seam allowances, and the techniques necessary to finish garment. The directions for actual construction of the garment can be confusing and vague at times (and this is where experience will come in handy), but for the most part, the designs are simple and can be completed. Unlike most books of this kind, you are able cut the patterns to size (NO TRACING!). Unfortunately, the sizes run S-L or 2-12, so if you require more room on top or bottom, you will have to make adjustments. The designs are such that you will reuse each pattern piece, mix and match, depending on the garment you want to make, and gives you a platform to design your own style.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars beautiful designs, terrible instructions, April 30, 2009
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This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
i bought this book because I thought the designs might be nice, and in that regard it did not disappoint. You will probably pick up this book and want to make everything from it. Unfortunately, unless you have made lots of garments before, the instructions are fairly useless. The author tries to describe what to do without a diagram, and usually does not add enough detail. example: sew neckband around inner circle (what is the inner circle? and at what seam allowance?). she will have you sew pieces together without indicating how they should be pieced together or what seam allowance ahould be used.

How the publisher let this book be published without better technical editing is beyond me. I hope that the author puts out more detailed instructions for those of us who really want to make the designs but can't because the book is lacking useful instructions.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the nascent couturier, May 21, 2009
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
Update: I finished making my first dress using this book. My first dress ever, actually. It came out great! Not perfect, mind you, but nice enough so that nobody else would notice my little screw-ups.

I already own and enjoy a few Christine Haynes clothing designs, so I was very excited to get this book! I am currently working on a dress pattern included in Chic & Simple Sewing and haven't had issues interpreting the instructions thus far. My sewing experience is limited, as I have only mended, hemmed, and made tote bags. I have, however, done a great deal of reading about sewing which has probably made using this book easier. For those having issues with the instructions, I think it's important to read the sections preceding specific designs. You will find that Haynes covers techniques such as gathering and inserting elastic. For anything that's still confusing, I have found the internet a great resource for clarifying sewing terms that puzzle me.

I highly recommend this book both for the current, highly wearable designs and Haynes' ability to inspire novice sewers to stop worrying about failure and embrace the creative process. You will screw up sometimes, but often that's the most enlightening teacher of all.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless and classic pieces for women, this book is well worth the money paid, August 5, 2010
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I am surprised that this book doesn't have a higher overall rating than it does because I think that it is one of the best books I've found so far on the market for sewing your own clothing, aside from Diana Rupp's book. While I must say that this book is not for total beginners because the instructional portion of the book isn't very detailed, advanced beginners to advanced sewers can tackle these projects without any problem at all. I would recommend this book if you have already done a project or two and feel comfortable with the sewing machine. I personally consider myself an advanced beginner, I have made pajama pants, a skirt, baby pants, and a few other basic items before so I feel pretty comfortable sewing a straight stitch on a machine. If you are a total newbie, Diana Rupp's book would probably be more suitable for you since it goes into more detail about sewing basics. Going back to this book - one of the great features is that the author of this book, Haynes, has a phobia of zippers and buttons and every single one of the chic pieces features NO BUTTONHOLES and NO ZIPPERS! Now, don't get me wrong, if there was a great piece of clothing out there that I wanted to sew and it had zippers or buttons in it, I would still (attempt) make it, but it just so happens that my personal style of clothing is fuss-free yet fashionable - I love Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses for the fact that I don't need to fuss with zippers, buttons, or anything else complicated. They are grab and go and so classic and timeless. Sure enough, there is a great wrap dress design in the book called "Doing it like DVF" and if any of you have tried to shop for commercial wrap dress designs, they range from 5.00 - 20.00 alone, which justifies the price of the book itself. In addition to the wrap dress design, I would say that the other designs lean heavily towards dresses and feminine pieces that appeal to the teenager - 30's demographic. This is subjective of course, but I just feel that most of these designs would just look silly on more mature women, like the baby doll dress, the front strapless dress, the going back to school dress, etc. That being said, there are a few pieces which are worth their price of the book alone that would appeal to everyone, like the trench coat and the cape. One thing you should know is that of the more than 20 designs, 11 of them are dresses! It just so happens that I love dresses, so that is part of the reason why I love this book, and for those of you who also love dresses you won't be disappointed. The author tells you to use woven fabrics for her designs, and doesn't cover jersey knits at all. Woven fabrics are easier to sew because they don't have the slippery stretch of knits, so I can understand why she would do this. However, I love knits for their drape and feel, so I was a bit let down that she didn't include any in the styles. That being said, for a sewer who can handle knits with ease, most of the designs, especially the dresses, could probably be made with knit fabric. While the author does re-use some pattern pieces in several designs, I would say that she does it in a very creative and resourceful way, instead of some books that just offer variations of the same A-Line style dress or skirt. Each time she re-uses a pattern piece I marvel at the ingenuity because you can't tell in the finished product. Comparing to Diana Rupp's book, which tries to appeal to a larger audience by including men's boxers and ties, this book is 100% feminine fun and doesn't try to hide it. One downside is that the sizing runs small - all the patterns are offered in S, M, or L, and I have 35"-26"-34" dimensions and I fit into the "M" sizing. I am in my late 20's so these designs definitely appeal to me - especially all the dresses like the Little Black Dress, the Opera Dress, The Back-to-School Shift Dress, The Indian Summer Dress, The Sundress, etc. The author divides her designs into seasons and the patterns are clearly marked with the essentials: the pattern number, how many pieces to cut, where to place the fold, etc. I appreciate also that the notches on her patterns are extra-large instead of the miniscule ones on commercial patterns. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to sew simple, youthful, and feminine pieces of clothing for themselves.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cute patterns, but not for the beginner or larger woman, July 13, 2009
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I've been sewing for a long time and rarely purchase sewing books; however, the simple yet stylish patterns in this caught my eye and I bought it at a local store. Since I am not a beginner, I didn't bother to read the introduction section and went straight to the descriptions at the back.
Unfortunately, this meant that I missed the little line about SIZING: the patterns only go up to a 10/12... Great for my teenage daughter, not so great for me. There's no way my 42" bust will fit these. (thankfully, I have enough experience to modify them, but that will add a bit of time and complexity that defeats the point of these "quick" patterns.) I am disappointed that a wider size range wasn't offered.
With that said, the book is fun and inspiring, offering suggestions on different fabrics and easy modifications. Not a good book to buy as your first how-to sew, but good for intermediate sewers or those able to wing it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you have any sewing skills skip this book, September 2, 2011
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This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
The front cover looks pretty exciting but when I got the book all the patterns were very simple and all look very poorly fitted to the models. Gaping arms holes and such. There was only one dress which I thought I would actually make, The Opera Dress. But that is it. Also, the directions on how to assemble the clothes is mostly text. No diagrams. If you never sewn before I would not recommend this book. If you have some skills.. I would not recommend this book. Its just not worth the price.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars inaccurate sizing, December 28, 2009
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This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
There are a few cute patterns in this book. I have tried two so far and found that the sizing is much larger than stated. I used my current body measurements and ended with a dress and a blouse that were so huge I had to take them apart and alter drastically. I had to take in the blouse ~ 3 inches. In the two patterns that I completed, I found the instructions to be adequate. There is a nice glossary and reference section that explains many sewing terms well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some nice patterns, June 6, 2010
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M. Gibson (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I bought this book because, while I can sew, I've never really tried making clothing before and I want to start simple before moving on to some more complicated dress patterns.
There are patterns for 14 dresses, 3 skirts, 2 tops, 2 jackets/coats, 1 nightie and 1 cape.

Some things I like about this book are the full size patterns which are included (lots of the pattern pieces are used for more than one design so I traced them rather than cutting up the original); some of the designs (of the 23 patterns I'd probably make about 8 - especially the wrap around skirt, wrap around dress, and shift dress, which I've already made).

Some things I didn't like so much: The sizing is a bit unclear. According to the size chart in the book I'm a size large (I wear a size 10 US and am pretty standard - things off the rack usually fit me well), but after looking at the patterns I decided to make the shift dress in medium and it fits fine - large would have been too big. There could be more diagrams (and the diagrams could be more clear) although I was able to get through the shift dress pattern without any major problems. I wasn't crazy about all of the patterns but that's really a matter of preference. I think the trench coat looks a little like a lab coat (a cute lab coat) without buttons, a collar, etc. and dresses that cinch in above the bust and then just drop down look terrible on me, but others may feel differently. I'd flip through the book first if possible. Also I don't entirely get why the book is organized by season instead of by difficulty level or garment type (tops, skirts, etc.).

As the blurb about the book says, the cost of this book isn't much more than the cost of a couple of individual sewing patterns so if you're going to make at least two or three of the patterns it's not a bad buy. The instructions are okay, they could be better but a beginner should be able to understand them, even if it means reading them through a couple of times first for more complicated projects.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to making your own clothing, March 3, 2010
By 
Parker (Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chic & Simple Sewing: Skirts, Dresses, Tops, and Jackets for the Modern Seamstress (Spiral-bound)
I absolutely love this book. I am relatively new to sewing, and I was nervous to make my first garment (Would it be ill-fitting? Would it look homemade? Will someone be kind enough to tell me if it looks ill-fitting and homemade?) I was pleasantly surprised to make my first dress from a pattern in Chic & Simple Sewing and have it turn out to be something wearable and flattering. Now I've finished my third project from this book, and I plan to make more.

The book comes with full-size patterns in an envelope, so there's no copying, enlarging or tracing necessary, which is a time and money saver. I thought the patterns and instructions were beginner-friendly (beginners should read the introductory chapters for information on how to fold fabric for cutting out patterns or what size to make seam allowances), and the patterns are basic enough that I imagine they could be modified by more experienced sewers. Some of the projects have elastic waistbands that aren't very flattering on my body type, but those can be hidden with a shirt or belt. The author admits that elastic isn't the most couture way to finish a garment, but she says that she includes them because they're easy for beginners, and it's true. I'm 30 years old and a size 8-10, and I'd wear just about everything in this book if I had the fabric supply ready to make all of it.

I browsed through a lot of sewing books before I bought this one, and many look like they haven't been updated since a time when my grandmother would have been using them, or the projects were too cutesy, or they were trying too hard to be edgy. The style of both the writing and clothing in this book avoid all that. I highly recommend this book to other beginning sewers ready to make their first garments.
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