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Posts Tagged ‘dressmaking’

Complete Guide to Sewing, book review.

 Many students ask me to recommend a good reference sewing book for them and this is one I consider to be my sewing bible: Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Produced for the home sewer it is still as relevant today as when it was first published in 1978. It’s still in print and you can pick one up in a national chain of newsagents/book stores that grace most UK high streets. However, I urge you to scour the bookshelves of your Mother, Granny,Great Aunt or friendly neighbour or local charity shop to save your pennies to buy beautiful fabrics instead – indeed on one online marketplace the postage was more than the cost of the book itself, so there a plenty of copies out there.

The early editions might well be a little outdated with their list of sewing essentials and fashion photographs, and of course computerised machines or overlockers don’t get a mention, but the easy to read chapters for advice and construction techniques in an intuitive order are a fail safe for a dressmaking guide. Interestingly in Pattern Size Guidelines it states ‘your patterns might not be the same as your ready to wear size. It does not matter; ready to wear and pattern sizes have no necessary relation to one another’!

There is even a chapter at the back of the book with Sewing Projects for the home including alterations and renovations. I would say however that my 1970s edition has out dated pages about Curtain making as curtain notions have somewhat moved on in the last forty years – but this is of little consequence as the quality step by step diagrammatical instructions for dressmaking techniques are superb.
If you are an enthusiastic home dressmaker I suggest you add this to your Christmas list if you don’t  already own a copy! 


Which Dressmaking Pattern Should I Buy?

Please accept my apology of posting this blog again (although updated) as at each cycle of six week classes I meet new students who have been home dressmakers who are confused by the range of patterns available to them – so I have updated the post for recent students and new sewers who have yet to discover the fun at The Sewing Shed.

Many students ask me, why are dressmaking patterns so varied in size? There is ONE main reason.

The high street was re-sized in the 1970s in the UK, as a better diet was developing larger female silhouettes and with different proportions of our mothers and grandmothers generations. Dressmaking patterns were not necessarily re-sized to take into account the more modern figures. This is why on the reverse of many patterns bought today we are one, two or even three sizes larger than our ‘usual’ high street dress size. This can be said for Simplicity, New Look, Burda, Vogue and Buterick. 

For beginners learning dressmaking I recommend patterns that have been developed within the last five years, particularly Colette as these are more true to the dressmaking size that we are used to. There are also more artisan makers that sell at sewing shows and on line for example, Amy Butler, Sew Over It, Simple Sew and Tilly and the Buttons. I can personally vouch for Amy Butler, Colette and Simple Sew having used many of their patterns in my classes and I am in the process of stocking a carefully selected range of new artisan patterns; Colette, Sew Liberated, Made by Rae as well as bag patterns by Noodlehead and childrens patterns by Oliver + S and Made by Rae.

For all sewing patterns you should reach for the tape measure and use these measurements when deciding which size garment to make.

When sewing a garment you should be able to measure accurately, sew to this size, then the garment will fit and look like the picture on the pattern packet.  Home dressmaking should not require a toile first or to need many fittings, i.e. putting the garment on and off, altering it to get the desired fit. For this reason I really would not recommend Merchant & Mills for the novice home sewer.