Giant Book Review Roundup Post

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!

0 thoughts on “Giant Book Review Roundup Post

  1. When you click on the link for the Ready to Share book, you go to the Lear Center site for the project – and there is an email link to click on for a free copy. I’ve requested a copy, and hope to get it and post a review on my blog.Off to check out the others – they all sound fascinating!!


  2. In my secret pocket, there would be a small two-way radio so I could talk to the other female gangsters who were picking up protection money (under cover of “shopping.”) In case they needed backup, you know?


  3. There NEEDS to be a secret, ring shaped pocket (with closure!) so if it all gets too much and you need to nip into a bar for someone to buy you a drink, you can safely stash your wedding band. Eliminates confusion during blackouts.


  4. tea, I’ve seen that fabric and I LOVE it!! erin, if you ever decide you need someone to do some of the book reviews, I’d be happy to help 🙂 I’m soooo jealous that you get to read all of these great books! I’m definitely going to get myself a copy of the last one.I think I need a four o’clock dress made of gorgeous spacey-type fabric. With secret pockets full of candy.


  5. “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,”Well, I can follow a recipe and I can sew but I still haven’t learned how to drive.


  6. I’ve put in my request for “Ready to Share” and requested Sew Fast from the library — I want, in the abstract, to learn to sew but I still find it very intimidating! Much easier just to draw what I like, but that approach has practical drawbacks…


  7. This was so rah rah that even *I*, the non-sewing pattern seller, is contemplating learning how to do more than put in an elastic waist on something!!! 😀


  8. My mom had a sewing machine with a foot pedal for years!I could never do it properly because it’s so hard to load threads and to work simultaniously with your hands and feet, but it’s definitely elegant!!


  9. Ran across the “Faux Fashions” book on a “quick” trip to a local bookstore, and found it fascinating.Really, sewing IS pretty easy, once you get a handle on a basic set of skills. You just slowly expand out from the basics, as far as you like.People look at me with their mouths hanging open when they realize I make pretty much everything I wear, which is sort of fun, but also kind of sad, because all of them are bright enough to do it if they wanted to.Liberate yourselves from the oppressive grip of department store buyers! (yeah!)


  10. (and now my husband wants to know what I am thinking about. “What would I put in a secret pocket dress while you are away at work?”Perhaps a packet of purple prose from my secret admirer? *It’s just a letter!* 😉


  11. “charmingly absurd”: words I fully expect as my epitaph 😉 What wonderful fabric, Tea! All DaD-ers should be incorporating this into inside cuffs and secret-pocket linings.On the subject of sewing books, may I plug a fellow International Sewing Conspirator, Erin? Ruth Singer (great name for a sewist) has written ‘Sew It Up: a modern manual of practical and decorative sewing techniques’ which aims to cover everything from threading a needle on up through 150 fascinating and useful techniques, culminating in 20 masterclasses (e.g. couture hemming). Haven’t seen a copy, but it’ll be published in the UK on 30th October, and should be distributed in the US and Australia too. More information on availability etc here:, though you can also locate Ruth on Facebook (even via the International Sewing Conspiracy page!).


  12. I just ADORE Forgotten Fashion. It arrived on my doorstep just as I was coming down with an awful cold, and provided some much-needed chuckles between bouts of hacking, wheezing and nose-blowing. Excellent!


  13. I learned so much about reading patterns from the first Sew Fast Sew Easy book, written by the same author and now out-of-print, I believe. I made all three projects, and have gotten so many compliments on them.I’ve got the new book but haven’t yet tried any sewing — I just make so little time for sewing during the summer, but I plan to tackle the wrap dress this fall, for sure!I would really recommend Elissa Meyrich’s books, especially the first Sew Fast Sew Easy book if you can find a copy. As someone who knew how to work a sewing machine but was always frustrated by how poorly many of my projects came out, her approach was a revelation and has made me a much, much better sewer!


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