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Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew, One Project at a Time Hardcover-spiral – August 25, 2010
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The book begins by talking about tools you'll need: sewing machine, iron, good fabric shears, marking chalk, seam ripper, seam guide, hem guide and seam gauge, standard zipper foot and buttonhole foot, extra bobbins, measuring tape, pin cushion, various types of pins and needles. Then there's a list of "You don't have to have these but they sure do help" items such as clear acrylic ruler, rotary cutter and mat, invisible zipper foot, and knitting needle. Then there's a "Get 'Em if you Like, but No Pressure" items such as needle threader, thimble, bias tape maker, expandable measure, nonstick pressing sheet and more. For every item that she lists, she talks about why it's useful, and it's really clear that she'll only tell you that you HAVE to get something if she thinks you will really need it. She also talks about different types of threads and fabrics. I really enjoyed reading these first few pages because it was so informative.
The author then moves on to giving advice on choosing a machine. I was very relieved that the machine I bought on Amazon fit the bill - the Janome Magnolia 7318 Sewing Machine (phew!). Then the book goes into detail about parts of a sewing machine, how to wind the bobbin, and basic stitching techniques.
Your very first mini-project is a stitch sampler. This is for you to get to know your machine and the stitches it can make. Then she moves onto thread drawing which reminds me of cross-stitching or embroidery. Then you learn how to make your own appliques and how to attach it to a T-shirt.
Each project gets more and more complex, with the intention that you're learning valuable skills that will become part of your arsenal when you tackle complex projects. Each project comes with shopping list + supplies needed and also a list of skills you'll build. There are tips along the way and at the end of most projects there is some kind of inspiration to take what you learned one step further.
Projects include fancy napkins, picnic place mats, reversible tote, eye mask, hipster belt (which you can recreate into a wrist cuff), throw pillows, cafe curtains, patchwork skirt (for little girls and with directions on how to modify for adults), carport wrap skirt, a-line skirt and cap-sleeved blouse with darts.
While I'd like to just jump right in and tackle the skirt because it seems more functional, I am going to go through the book from first project to last because each project is a teaching tool. Although I admit I'm on the fence about cafe curtains since I live in an apartment with just blinds and have no need for curtains.
The book comes with a CD. The CD has patterns for the eye mask, belt, a-line skirt (sizes 4-14), carport skirt (sizes 4-14) and cap-sleeved blouse (this is a multi-sized pattern). All the patterns are in PDF format and tiled so you can print them on your home computer. After you print the pages out, you have to stick them together. The author says there are two reasons for this pattern format: the first is so that you can print the patterns over and over without dealing with tissue paper patterns, and second, there are many free downloadable patterns online, and you'll now know how to use those patterns.
My one concern about the CD is that in the book the author talks about how pattern sizing isn't the same as ready-to-wear clothes we buy in shops. The reason being that sewing patters are closer to classic couture sizing, and she says not to be shocked if you're a size 8 on the street but wear a size 14 in patterns. My concern about the CD is that the pattern sizes are from 4 - 14, I hope that really doesn't mean it goes up to a ready-to-wear size of 8 since I'm no 8 (although I wish I were!). I haven't checked out the CD yet, but it's a concern that I'm a little fearful to discover. I will update this review once I take a look-see.
Overall, I recommend this book for beginner sewers like me!
I enjoyed her online pattern making course and was anxious to purchase her book. She recommends that the reader reads each chapter in sequence. That may be true for a beginner, however I did not (and will not) do that. I have been using the text as a reference book as there are a few things that I have learned from this book.