Review: Built By Wendy: Dresses

by Erin on February 10, 2010


Built By Wendy Dresses

I was really impressed by Built by Wendy Dresses: The Sew U Guide to Making a Girl's Best Frock. I really liked her Sew U book that came out back in 2006, so I was excited to see that she had a new one, concentrating exclusively on DRESSES. Whoo-hoo!

There are three dress patterns (sheath, shift, and dirndl) and twenty-five variations, most of which are cute (although they skew a little young). And the pattern sizing has changed from the first book, with the new book including an XL size (up to a 41" bust).

This would be a good book for a dedicated beginner. By "dedicated beginner," I mean someone who is slightly more patient than average (or maybe just slightly more patient than ME), who is thoughtful and careful, and who has sufficient motivation to spend more than one weekend putting a dress together. I estimate that it would take one weekend's worth of time (for a beginner) just to get the patterns traced and altered, one weekend to cut out the pattern and begin construction, and one weekend (or long evening) to do the finishing work. This is definitely a book for someone who will enjoy the planning and the process as much as the finished item.

However, if you worked your way carefully through the projects in this book, there would be very little that would faze you at the end. She covers pattern alterations, collars, clipping curves, sewing on buttons, seam finishing, facings and linings … and of course, pockets, although welt pockets are not included — even Wendy says they're on the difficult side, so she left them out. Zippers are given a slightly hand-wavy treatment, but since there are roughly one gazillion zipper tutorials floating around the web, I don't think that's a problem.

I get a lot of emails that basically read "I bought a sewing machine NOW WHAT??" I think this book is the new answer to "NOW WHAT??"

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn February 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

I had never heard of this book but think I will check it out.Thanks for sharing the review with us.

Reply

Kathryn February 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

I had never heard of this book but think I will check it out.Thanks for sharing the review with us.

Reply

Packrat February 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thanks. Good birthday gift idea for my DIL who bought a sewing machine and said, now what?.

Reply

Girlygirlboy February 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

Ooo, looks like a great book for me. I am a lifelong beginner. I never really get passed the point of novice. I know by reading Erins blog now for a few years that most everyone here is intermediate to accomplished. I have nothing but admiration for yall .

Reply

Sara February 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

Thanks for the review. Looks like a good book!

Reply

Lindsey in AL February 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

When you say alterations what does that include? Does it teach you how to do a full bust adjustment? I have a freaky large bosom on a relatively small upper frame (currently 5 months pregnant full bust is probably 44 while my rib cage measures about 34-36) I have read so many tutorials that I can practically recite the method but I just cant make it stick on paper. I would like to see a book with really easy to follow instructions.On the other hand, I can make a welt pocket and insert a zipper :DI have been sewing for a long time but as far as making clothes that fit nicely, I am as much a beginner as anyone.

Reply

meredithp February 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Lindsey in AL: for the best (IMO) discussion of the full bust adjustment (FBA) you might want to check out Fit for Real People. Really the best discussion and instructions on how to do it.http://www.amazon.com/Fit-Real-People-Clothes-Pattern/dp/0935278656/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8s=booksqid=1265839652sr=8-1Im not familiar with the book that Erin is reviewing, so it may have it…

Reply

Cookie February 10, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Ooooh! I have a lot of vintage sewing books, but theyre not particularly aimed at beginers (aside from the one published by 17 Magazine in the 60s). This looks like a superb beginning book for me, Im sure…….as my pattern collection and fabric stash are probably the largest in town, for someone whos only made adjustments and not started anything from scratch.

Reply

tcarole February 11, 2010 at 10:25 am

Yay. I really liked her first book – Sew U and got a lot out of it. I bought the second one also, the Sew U Stretch and I wasnt as happy with it. It might be that my sergers been on the edge for a while and a tension knob is clearly broken. But also, the pattern size for the top was way too big – and this is after using the size for my body measurements. I didnt try the other patterns because I was disappointed at first. I will try them again though (when my new serger gets here, double yay) and I will definitely buy this book as well. All sewing puns aside (the book is littered with them and they start to get a bit tiresome), she explains things very well and gave me tips that will forever change how I work – and Ive been sewing since I was 9! (Im 41 so thats forever.)

Reply

Lavon February 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I am always trying to find way to reward myself for sticking to my diet. I have to work out for 30 days and this book is mine. I really want this book and I will complete each project in it thanks for much for helping me find a way to reward my self for losing weight with something other than food.

Reply

geisha_me February 19, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I just got this book, its sitting on the coffee table taunting me. Thanks for the review! Youre letting me know about the proverbial waters before I dive in. :)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: