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Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe Spiral-bound – Bargain Price, September 1, 2006
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Eviana Hartman is an editor at Nylon magazine, and was formerly a fashion writer for Vogue and Teen Vogue.
About the Author
Wendy Mullin is a self-taught seamstress whose hip clothing line Built by Wendy has found fans amongst musicians, artists, and actors such as the Beastie Boys, Natalie Portman, and Pharrell. She was tapped by Wrangler to create the new Wrangler 47 line. She lives in New York.
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Top customer reviews
Wendy's detailed sewing instructions are also really helpful, even for someone who is used to constructing garments from scratch. Her tips are worth heeding, and the order of operations help keep you organized during your projects. There are a few basic things that I knew how to do, but I imagine some people would need instruction on, and they are lacking. The pants section does not tell you how to make your belt loops, and fails to explain the process of pressing seam allowances on pockets and then top-stitching them, nor whether or not they're supposed to be sewn into the side seam.
This is a great, useful book, just be sure to read the beginning first, before starting a project, especially if you're a beginner. Things like seam allowances aren't provided on the patterns or in the specific garment sections, so look in the opening chapters for details that apply to all the patterns. THE PANTS IN HERE ARE AMAZING.
My opinion of "Sew U" is essentially the same -- it's a fun supplemental sewing book with patterns that would tend to appeal more to teenaged girls and young women with casual tastes. The only thing I would add is that it IS really helpful to have the proper tools -- the author downplays this because she and other contemporary authors of beginning sewing books tend to dumb down things with the misguided idea of being less intimidating to novices.
But if you're not that experienced, it's actually helpful to have specialized tools. A professional has the dexterity to make do with fewer tools, although most pros do have well-equipped workrooms. Fortunately, apart from tools like scissors, many sewing notions are reasonably cheap. You can afford to buy several different kinds of chalks to find the one that works best for you and the job at hand.
To discuss a specific point in the book, I personally find it hard to simply lay down a pattern on fabric, weight it down and cut. The fabric slides. I obtain more accurate results if at least I pin the fabric down and cut. My preferred method, however, learned from tailoring teachers, is to pin the fabric selvages together, pin the two layers together at various places, transfer the paper pattern to oaktag, lay down the oaktag, weighting it if necessary, and to trace the outline with chalk. Then I remove the oaktag and cut the traced outline.
I know it's time-consuming, but following steps like the ones I suggested is why clothes made with professional methods tend to look better. If you decide to pursue this and hold yourself to the highest standards, you'll see what I mean.
I bought "Sew U" several months ago. I leafed through it and found it interesting but a little overwhelming, as I have found most sewing books. I did like the author's attempt to demystify sewing, noting that not all the fancy tools are necessary at the beginning, and her suggestions for modifications that the readers can make to the patterns. It's a nice-looking book, in a format that lays flat when open, which is handy for a crafts book.
Having said that, "Sew U" does not connect all the dots for the beginning sewer. A few months ago, I enrolled in a rigorous beginning sewing class at a famous school that specializes in fashion design. I have by far the least amount of experience in the class.
Early on in the class another person saw me with the book and said she'd liked it, but it "left things out." I didn't know what she meant until last night when I was trying to do a class project, making a fitted shirt not unlike the one featured in "Sew U." I flipped to the pages in the book dealing with attaching the cuffs and collar, but the book treats in summary fashion a fairly complicated process.
I had to ask a more experienced student, and if she hadn't been available, I'd have had to consult a truly comprehensive guide, such as the "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing," the Dorling Kindersley "Complete Book of Sewing," or David Page Coffin's "Shirtmaking."
The style of some of the patterns isn't really to my taste, but I'm not complaining about that; you can tell from the illustrations that the style is laid back -- I figured I could alter them -- mainly, I was looking for a more concise reference book than the ones mentioned above. As noted, this book does have some deficiencies for a guide with its title.
But if you have basic sewing construction skills, you will enjoy the book. I plan to look at the "Sew U" book on knits in the future, but again, I will assume that it is not a standalone text.