Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Peek Inside: A Guide to Fashion Sewing

Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Michelangelo to paint your garage.  
~ Author Unknown

Today's "peek" is inside the 5th edition of Connie Amaden-Crawford's "A Guide to Fashion Sewing."  

The book has 22 chapters, plus a few appendices and a glossary.  

Here is the high level table of contents:  
  1. Equipment, including sewing machine
  2. Fabric
  3. Body types & size charts
  4. Patterns
  5. Assembly sequence
  6. Stitches
  7. Seam finishes
  8. Darts
  9. Pleats
  10. Bias treatments
  11. Sewing with Knits
  12. Zippers
  13. Pockets
  14. Sleeves
  15. Collars
  16. Necklines
  17. Facings
  18. Linings
  19. Tailoring
  20. Waistlines
  21. Hems
  22. Closures
Each chapter starts with an overview of the relevant, important concepts.  Here is an example of this section (2 pages) from the chapter on pleats:

(Sorry that the 2nd page is not well aligned...)  

Then, each technique or concept is explained and illustrated in detail.  Here are 2 of the 4 pages on a welt bound pocket:

(Again, sorry about the misalignment on the second page - I was struggling with my scanner...)  

As you can see, basically everything is illustrated with drawings.  There is a section of photos in the fabric chapter, but no others.  Do you have a preference between photos and drawings in your sewing reference books?  

The book seems pretty complete to me.  I was pleasantly surprised to see sections on a bustier (with boning) and a waist stay - techniques I used for Susan's wedding dress, but not exactly everyday fare.  At least, not in my sewing room...  ;)

On the other hand, there were only 5 pages on fitting.  She has you interface your major pattern pieces and then use them to fit, rather than make a muslin.  

The book also comes with a DVD that has videos.  Here is the main menu screen:

I have watched half a dozen of them so far.  They were all slow and clear, and with good camera angles so that you can really see what is happening.  

I will say that they are definitely geared towards beginners.  The videos that I watched did not include a number of little tips that I was expecting - for example, when sewing darts, she has you backstitch at both ends.  At the dart point, I am used to stitching right along the crease for a short while and then leaving a tail and tying it off by hand.  I can't remember exactly where I learned this - is it not worth doing?  

Also, instead of using a corner turner, she used the tips of her scissor blades to poke out a corner.  Yikes!  I clearly remember being scolded for this in a day-long sewing workshop...  

Anyways, I haven't watched all of the videos, but it looks like she walks you through all of the steps in sewing a shirt.  

My bottom line:  I wish that I had had this book when I first started sewing and wasn't familiar with many of the techniques used in sewing patterns - it seems like an excellent place to go for more detailed guidance on a technique-by-technique, as-needed basis.  While I know more of those techniques now, I can still see myself turning to it sometimes.  :)

So, do any of you have this book?  If so, what do you think of it?  

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