Book Review: Super Stitches Sewing

by Erin on July 19, 2014

super stitches sewing book cover

When you’ve been sewing for as long as I have (30 years!), it can be hard to discover the gaps in your own knowledge. You have your own routes to the places you need to go, and time doesn’t always (or even usually) permit the kind of aimless wandering that leads you to new discoveries.

So when I was offered a review copy of Super Stitches Sewing (subtitled: A complete guide to machine-sewing and hand-stitching techniques), my thought was that it would be a great entry-level book to suggest to people just getting into sewing.

I wasn’t really wrong … I was just thinking too small. Super Stitches Sewing is a great book for people just getting into sewing, but it also revealed to me a huge blind spot of my own: turns out, I have been ignoring about 70% of what my sewing machine is capable of.

When I first started sewing, I used a machine that had a straight stitch and a zig-zag, and a buttonhole stitch that could charitably be described as “cantankerous”. My second machine was at about the same level of sophistication (albeit with a buttonhole stitch that could be described as “temperamental”). My third machine was a 1950s throwback (with cams that, while cool, I never really bothered to learn to use). So when I moved up to a brand-new machine that added a blind hem stitch to my repertoire, I patted myself on the back for joining the modern age. “Whoo-hoo, now we’re cooking with gas!” I believe I said.

As it turns, out there is SO much more I could be doing with the stitches on my machine (even leaving aside the alphabet-embroidery stuff that I’ve used exactly once). Machine darning! Sewing on buttons by machine! Shell stitching for scalloped piping! And pages and pages of stitches that might just be the key to me finally starting to sew with knits.

And I haven’t even mentioned the hand-sewing section yet … which even includes pad-stitching instructions for those of you interested in classic tailoring techniques.

So: in short, Super Stitches Sewing is a great book, highly recommended. Even if you’re a machine maestro, the simple instructions and clear illustrations make this worth keeping on hand as reference.

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Piping Merrily Along

by Erin on July 16, 2014

This dress is all about the piping:
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 piping closeup

Okay, it’s also about being in one of my all-time favorite Liberty prints, Mark, but mostly it’s about this gathered-shoulder silhouette:
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 bodice with piping

And if you’re going to pipe the shoulder seams, you must pipe the pockets as well (it’s the law):
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 pocket

The shoulder piece makes this really nicely satisfying curved seam at the back neck (ignore my rolling-facing issues):
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 back bodice closeup

The shoulder/sleeve has a turnunder for hemmish purposes, which is a feature I always like. Makes things simpler:

Here’s the back view, a bit wrinkly as I wore this for a few hours before taking these pictures:
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 back view

Last but not least, the full front view:
Liberty Mark Simplicity 2389 dress

This pattern is Simplicity 2389 (well, for the bodice, the skirt is that much-adjusted Simplicity 5238). (All rollover text in this post from the Piping Design Handbook.)

There’s still something wonky going on with the side bodice seams, and the fabric is a bit light for the deep front pleat, but I really like this dress. It’s very light and comfortable without feeling skimpy (although the front V is slightly lower than I usually wear). The sleeves are great for full range of motion (have you realized that too-tight armholes are one of my pet peeves, yet?)

There’s another version of this in a heart-print voile, that’s in pieces on my sewing table — hope to have it finished and posted soon.

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Cinco de Mayo Simplicity 5238

July 13, 2014

Here’s a more true-to-life (or at least, true to the pattern illustration) version of Simplicity 5238: I actually bought this fabric yonks ago. I bought it in early autumn and thought it was too summery, and then it suffered from a lot of being “too” other stuff, as well. It was too heavy for a […]

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Another Frankendress

July 7, 2014

So this is the same pattern (or lack thereof) as the last dress, only in this Liberty fabric that I adore. Look, they’re little matches! (It’s called “Strike” and Shaukat still has some in the green colorway which is *almost* as adorable.) Because Tana lawn is so light, I piped the pockets: The zipper’s not […]

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Conscious Incompetence

June 3, 2014

This photo was taken last Friday by the very nice Leslie Dela Vega, of OZY, for this article. She was super-nice about taking photos, and I hope I was nice back, even though I really really hate having my picture taken. I’m glad she took this photo, even though I don’t think it’s all that flattering, […]

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Hats, Ranked By How Much I Enjoy Seeing People Wearing Them

June 1, 2014

Church Lady, in Church Crowns-style hat. Bonus points if the hat is part of a monochrome ensemble, where the hat was clearly decided upon FIRST. Old dude wearing a Kangol. Extra points if it’s with a suit and tie. Unironic Stetson, when paired with a belt buckle that was achieved through some display of testosterone. Smiling […]

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Today’s Pattern Story: Vogue 8946

May 27, 2014

  “Yes, we do have one of the new robotic mannequins in stock, but I’m afraid it’s a refurbished version. It looks lovely, but thinks it is Grace Kelly. But as long as you call it ‘Your Serene Highness’, you should be fine … oh, and don’t make any sudden movements, or it will stab you […]

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London Calling

May 10, 2014

[Photo of Liberty of London by Stuart Pinfold, on Flickr] So I’ll be in London the weekend of May 24-25, and wondered: would anyone like to get together to do sewing-ish type things? Like, perhaps, a fabric crawl or a trip to the V&A, or both? I will 100% absolutely be going to Liberty, Shaukat, […]

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Book Review: Liberty: British Colour Pattern

May 5, 2014

Finally, Liberty: British Colour Pattern is available in the US! (Although not *immediately* available; Amazon is showing out-of-stock.) I begged for a copy for Christmas and was duly gratified, but I held off blogging it until it was easier to get. (Of course if you’re in the UK/ROW, you can order it here.) It’s truly a gorgeous […]

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Today’s Pattern Story: Butterick 5657

May 3, 2014

  As Reginald swept her into the turn, face contorted in a rictus of merriment, he hissed a warning in her ear. “Keep dancing! For God’s sake, keep dancing! If they realize we’re released from their bizarre mind control, they’ll rend us limb from limb!” Thanks to Josie Thames who suggested this pattern!

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