First off is Yeah! I Made It Myself, by Eithne Farry, which has been languishing under a pile of language-related books I have to review for I don't know how long. Since I came back from London, at the very least. Which is a shame, because it's a charming book.
I fell into immediate sympathy with the author, who declares (in the first fifty pages) her love for bias tape, sewing with furnishing fabric, and bright colo[u]rs.
But, be aware this is much more of a punk-rock, you-go-girlfriend-type book than a Martha Stewart "here are my 105 downloadable templates" type book. Most of the measurements given are approximate; the "diagrams" are done in what looks like magic marker. If you need constant reassurance that you are "doing it right", this is not the book for you; if you want to feel as if any way you do it is right (within reason), jump right in.
This book would be a perfect present for a teen friend who wants to sew but is put off by the embellished-quilted-vest crowd you see on a lot "traditional" sewing books … just keep an eye on your curtains.
The other book that's up for review today is 99 Ways To Cut, Sew, Tie & Rock Your Scarf I was really looking forward to this one, because I'm always interested in ways to make clothing-type stuff from things that aren't necessarily fabric (although of course with scarves it's changing one clothing-type thing into another clothing-type thing, or, in this case, 99 other clothing-type things).
All of the 99 versions in this book have women's names, and, believe it or not, my copy fell open to "Erin" … which is a balloon skirt. Not an auspicious start, although your opinion of balloon skirts may differ from mine. (My opinion is I hate 'em.) I think this was a sign that I'm not the intended audience for this book: first off, I don't really ever "rock" anything I'm wearing — I prefer to "power-pop" my clothing, the choruses are better — also I'm not a big fan of the halter top, versions of which I would estimate take up a good quarter of the "99 ways". One other reason why I figured I wasn't the audience for this book: none of the illustrated models are wearing eyeglasses! (Sunglasses don't count.)
However, if you are a halter-top fan, and you have been looking for a good quick balloon-skirt pattern, this book is totally for you. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and there's a great glossary of terms at the end. And even if you don't want 47 scarf-based tops that you can't wear a bra under, the "Jolene" kimono-style jacket is really lovely.
Again, though, this is a sewing book for non-sewers: almost every project can be made without a machine, and the emphasis is heavily on "find the scarf (preferably in a thrift store) today, wear it out tonight."
I actually got two copies of this, so if you want one, here's how to get it: be the first person to tell me where I can buy two more yards of this cotton poplin camouflage fabric:
I had just enough for a skirt … I thought. Then I saw that I'd dropped the center-back pattern piece on the floor. D'oh! So help me out, and get a free book! Email or comments are both fine ways to enter. If you leave a comment, though, make sure I can reach you to get an address for the sending of your prize!