Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sewing Books Review (Pt 1)

There are many great sites online that provide tutorials and knowledge on sewing, but I've also learnt a lot from books. I tried not to splurge on sewing books before, but after buying one by one, my mini library of sewing books slowly grew and have become the foundation of almost all my sewing projects.

I'm quite a cavewoman when it comes to sewing, but reading these books and learning from tutorials online has taught me much about the benefits of little things like sewing with better thread, drafting proper patterns, etc.

Here are some of my personal reviews of these books, hopefully they would be useful to those who are looking to buy any of these books. Also, hopefully they won't be too long-winded :P

(Edit: It did turn out to be a super long post, so I decided to split it into different parts. Will cover the pattern-drafting and fashion designing books on the next round.)

1. Fabric Guide by Simplicity

I bought this in Kinokuniya Singapore, and I love it because it had large, sharp pictures of the fabric types to help me identify them (that's how I knew one fabric I was working with was dupioni). There are also little tips on fabric handling, and common uses for the fabric specified. Sometimes, after finding out the type of fabric, I look it up online to see if there are other tips I should look out for, ie the best thread type that matches with the fabric, etc.

The first half of the book is a reference of identifying fabric types, which is the section I'm using the most currently. The second half covers topics such as trademarked fabric types (ie Teflon, Lycra), types of linings, determining yardage, types of needles, etc.

I know that there are a few online databases on fabric identification too. I have not personally used them, if you have any please do recommend them! :D

This is a really good encyclopedia on techniques on sewing from garments to home items such as curtains. The book uses a couple of Simplicity patterns as examples, and each topic is very well illustrated with step-by-step, er, illustrations. I love the illustrations because they are so clear. Perhaps if you've sewn a TON of patterns using patterns such as Simplicity or other brands which always come with clear illustrations on each step, you might not need this book (just a very rough, un-researched guess though haha). 

The book also covers how to make adjustments, hand stitches, assembling different types of collars, working with different types of sleeves, etc etc.. so whenever i want to find out how to do something, I always check this book first.

3. Vogue Sewing by Vogue Knitting Magazine

Another encyclopedia on sewing, but focused on garment production. I love it because it teaches me the couture way of doing things and helps me appreciate the beauty of couture sewing techniques. Sure it takes more time, but there will be a personal connection between the person who wears the garment and the garment. I would say that the Reader's Digest book above is an excellent guide for Ready To Wear (off-the-rack) garments, and this book just takes it one step further to create an experience for the wearer in couture versions of the garments.

I used to think it was such a waste to use beautiful fabric on the inside of a dress as a lining, but reading Vogue Sewing changed my mind. Sure, nobody sees it but the wearer, but it does give the wearer joy knowing the little secret that her houndstooth skirt is lined with an amazing pop of colour inside. It's kinda like how tshirts have intricate labels on the inside (even with a different illustration than on the shirt itself) that no one else can see, but it makes the wearer feel special, like he's onto a little secret that no one else knows.

I'm not saying that I will be using these couture techniques for all my garments though, because sometimes you just want a light airy tank top to wear on hot days and all those fancy linings might just take that simply, simple charm away. But it's definitely teaching me to consider these options for the more fancy garments such as evening dresses.

4. Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard

This was my parents-in-law for Christmas, one of the first sewing books that I received as a gift :D Compared to Vogue Sewing, this book seems more "updated" and offers a lot of large photographs on the techniques.

Every 2-4 pages explains a couture technique, explained in step-by-step instructions accompanied by the photos. Although it doesn't cover as many topics as Vogue Sewing, each topic is more clearly illustrated compared to the above book.

The most important thing I've learnt from this book that really BLEW MY MIND was knotting the thread through your machine to enable sewing a dart without a knot on your garment at the dart point. Wonderful technique, great for sheer fabrics especially.

So that's about it for today! What a longggg post. Hope it's been helpful to you, if you're looking for sewing books to buy. Remember to check out The Book Depository for the books too, and take advantage of their free worldwide shipping policy. I <3 The Book Depository!

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