Book the first is Sew Fast Sew Easy Sew On, which is subtitled "All You Need To Know to Start Sewing and Serging — Today!" I'm not so sure about the "today" part — it may take you a little time to round up the supplies you want — but with a little stick-to-it-tiveness, you could be sewing tomorrow, or at the very least Sunday.
I love this kind of rah-rah, you-can-do-it sewing book, because (rah-rah!) you CAN do it. Seriously. People ask me if it's hard to sew, and I always say that if you can drive a car and follow a recipe you can sew, because sewing is really just like following a recipe (and my sewing machine has a foot pedal). You take measurements, you mix things up, and if you've been paying attention, you get something delicious at the end. (And to push the driving metaphor a bit farther: sewing machines hardly EVER crash into each other.)
Sew Fast Sew Easy Sew On lays out, with detailed illustrations, all the basics of sewing. What you need. How to cut out a pattern. The parts of a sewing machine and of a serger. Basic garment construction. It's a very patient and helpful outline of sewing knowledge, and a great beginner book. And it includes some beginner patterns — a t-shirt, a halter dress, a pair of drawstring pants, a box cushion, and the inevitable iPod cozy.
One-Piece Wearables is for slightly more advanced sewists — its subtitle is "25 Chic Garments and Accessories to Sew from Single-Pattern Pieces." At first I thought the single.jpgece thing was a gimmick, but then I remembered how many times I'd altered a pattern to remove a seam I thought superfluous, and decided to take a closer look.
The book includes 15 patterns, several of the halter-top variety (there's only so much you can do with only one pattern piece!) but I was pleasantly surprised by the dress patterns, including a sweet little number called the "window-shopping dress". There's a t-shaped tunic that's not bad either, a great circle skirt, a very interesting little jacket, and even a really cute cloche-y hat!
The illustrations are more aspirational than technical but there are good diagrams of the cutting layouts and the instructions and supply lists are very clear. For intermediate sewists, this would be a great purchase; for beginners it may be a stretch; advanced sewists might want to get their hands on a copy as a jumping-off point for their own ideas.
Forgotten Fashion is not a how-to book, unless what you need to know how to do is be charmingly absurd. I consider myself a connoisseur of the absurd, so take it from me: this is some high-grade absurd, right here. Forgotten Fashion claims to be an "illustrated faux history of outrageous trends and their untimely demise," including safari pajamas (modeled after those worn in a screwball comedy where the stars were interrupted — repeatedly — on their wedding night by the groom's pet elephant, Jinx), the "poly-chem Oxford," a man's shirt made of space-age chemicals and designed to last fifty years, and my favorite, the "Four-O'Clock Dress" a toga-like garment to be worn AFTER coming home from shopping but BEFORE "the mister" got home. It had "secret inner pockets to hide the tools of whatever vice occupied the otherwise abject and idle afternoon … miniature gin bottles, marijuana joints, or palm-sized erotic novels." Genius! (What would be in your secret pocket, I ask?)
Ready to Share: Fashion & the Ownership of Creativity might be harder to find than the books above, but it's well worth it. A collection of essays on creativity, sharing, idea transfer, and homage/borrowing/"theft" in fashion, published by the Norman Lear Center at USC, it's completely engrossing. If you like fashion and are fascinated by the arbitrariness of copyright, patents, and IP law in general, you have to read this book. (And how much do I love that I know that a considerable number of you reading this blog ARE in that category?) The book also includes a DVD of the related event put on by the center.
Whew, okay, that's it for the books on my desk today. Check back at some undetermined interval for more book-reviewing madness!