Book Review: 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips

by Erin on October 6, 2010


Deepika (disclosure: advertises on this blog) sent me a copy of the new PatternReview book, 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips: Top-Rated Favorites from Sewing Fans and Master Teachers, and boy, am I happy to have it.

I love books of tips because they reinforce two of my prized assumptions: first, that no one is ever so much of an expert that they can't LEARN SOMETHING NEW, and second, that bite-sized pieces of information are always more fun than long tracts.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for huge, project-based books (I think I still have a copy of a book called 'Make Your Own Mission Furniture' around here somewhere) but in my current reality, it's as much as I can manage to learn that (for instance) you can fold the fabric in the seam allowance perpendicular to the stitching line and clip notches OUTWARD, letting you have nice neat notches in curves without the risk of cutting into the stitching! (Which I do with regularity.) 

Some of the other tips I will be using:

  • make cardboard templates to make spacing guides — I really need one of these for pockets, so I remember that the best spacing for a pocket opening for me is about 5 inches … 
  • use fusible interfacing instead of tape to shorten or lengthen pattern pieces (genius!)
  • take apart a jeweled stretch bracelet for gorgeous sew-on decorations — they already have holes!
  • buttons too shiny? Sand 'em down with fine-grit sandpaper or an emery board.

I really like that this book is organized by category — makes it easier to find tips that apply just to the difficult project you're currently tearing your hair out over. And part of this book's charm is that some of the tips are really cautionary tales, of the "don't let this happen to you" variety — who doesn't identify with a good story about a heinous mistake? 

I also recommend reading it with a bunch of little sticky notes, so that you can mark the pages of the tips you want to try for yourself! 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Beth October 6, 2010 at 5:08 am

Gosh, I’ll have to check this book out. I’m all about sewing short cuts. Less time in front of the sewing machine means more time out on the streets!


Lydia October 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

Ooooh. This might be going on the xmas wish list. Thank you for the tip!


Monkeygrrl October 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I usually pink curves – that way I never clip all the way in the raw edge is finished. I’ll have to check this book out.


livebird October 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Buttons can never be too shiny.


Salinda October 7, 2010 at 6:04 am

love this book. the tips are incredible and REAL. and, i loved seeing my name (well my user name) in print.

Reply October 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I”m glad you liked the book. One of my tips was published in it!


Katrin October 29, 2010 at 9:31 am

My mother taught me to cut notches outward, and I always found it such a chore to contort my wrist to do that. I was so relieved to learn that cutting them inward was acceptable too. But…folding the fabric perpendicular!? What a revelation! That tip might be worth the price of the book right there.


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