I hesitate to call this a "No-Bull Book Review," since my knowledge of the fabric world is far inferior to my knowledge of the knitting world, but let me tell you a little bit about the book. I trust that my faithful readers who know more about quilting and sewing than I do will chime in in the comments section to set me straight on anything I screw up.
Weekend Sewing was written by Heather Ross, a New York textile designer who teaches sewing at Purl Soho and who designs fabric and sleepwear. She blogs here. In the introduction to her book, Ross tells of a charming childhood spent in a one-room schoolhouse in the Vermont mountains where she and her twin sister learned to sew and knit at a young age, spending hours outdoors when the weather was good and hours inside executing craft projects to while away the long winters. Her aim in writing Weekend Sewing was to celebrate the times, mainly on weekends and holidays, when she is able to put aside deadlines and sew for pure pleasure, those times when she is "able to immerse [my]self fully in the joy of sewing [and] lose track of time and even myself, just like I did as a child."
Ross begins with a brief discussion of how to create a sewing space in your home. She includes storage ideas (must be the New Yorker in her, trying to make the most out of limited square footage), showing a clever sewing desk with storage for the machine inside an ottoman and a sewing cabinet that folds up all the supplies neatly inside. There's also a chapter at the end covering sewing basics, including how to choose a machine (with tips for buying new and used/vintage), explaining the parts of the sewing machine, how to choose fabric (good discussion of drape vs. body, fabric weight and stretch), how to "true" the fabric, layout and cutting of patterns, overview of tools, basic stitches, and how to do buttons and buttonholes. It's a pretty comprehensive section considering it's less than twenty pages long. It served as a good reminder for me of some sewing principles I'd forgotten -- and I learned a few new things, too.
Of course, the meat of the book are the patterns and the gorgeous photographs of them. Chapter 1 focuses on projects for the home and there are twelve, ranging from smaller items like a checkbook cover and napkins made of fat quarters, to a cute hostess apron (it cracks me up the way today's domestic divas are taking back the apron),
pillowcases and slippers for the guest room, and various totes and bags.
Chapter 2 features women's clothing, and I was surprised by how charming they were: a sundress, a button-front shirtwaist dress,
a wraparound skirt, pajama pants for everyone in the family, a halter and skirt combo,
and a few accessories like a headscarf and a tote.
The last project chapter has children's items, some for babies, like bloomers and an adorable kimono,
others for toddlers, including some cute sundresses
and even a boy's shirt (yay for boy patterns).
I've only dabbled in sewing, though I did take a quilting course years ago, and was forced to take a heinous sewing class as part of junior high "home economics" (the ninety-year-old instructor did little else but mutter dourly about how "you girls need to learn to pick up pins") but the directions seem clear and easy-to-follow. In the back of the book is a folded-up insert containing pattern pieces. I like that there are lots of little drawings to help illustrate the written directions, and I also appreciate that each pattern contains a paragraph which gives specific information about the type(s) of fabric that are appropriate for that pattern (i.e. whether the fabric should be woven or knit, light or heavyweight, and so on) -- very helpful for fabric newbies like me. Interspersed with the patterns and sewing instructions are insets containing recipes, tips for sewing with children or sewing on the go, suggested music to sew by, and so on.
So this knitter gives Weekend Sewing two thumbs-up for its attractive yet easy-enough-for-a-newbie projects, the gorgeous photography, the eye candy aspect of the fabrics, and the overall charm of its presentation.
Indeed, I was so charmed by the book that I found myself thinking of Miss Thang, who is seven and still young enough to wear stuff her mom makes. . . and before you know it, I found myself on the Glorious Color website (proprietor Liza is a pal) and then a day or two later, the postman delivered these, which I had liberated from Liza's on-line shop:
The trippy psychedelic deer/mushrooms and the bumblebees at the top are from the Jay McCarroll line (the Project Runway guy who grew up just a few miles from where I did in northeastern PA).
I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head. Yet circumstances are colluding to drag me, kicking and screaming (ha!), into playing with fabric.
Damn that Melanie Falick. Damn her and her gorgeous books, with their beautiful color photographs, luscious presentation, appealing projects, and clear directions. Melanie, the next time I hear my husband muttering about the "yarn museum" in the upstairs closet or the sewing machine on the dining room table, I'm sending him straight to you. It's all your fault, you know.
Two important notes:
- You'll find an FAQ/errata page for the book here. Best to check here before you purchase fabric or other supplies for a project.
- Heather Ross will be appearing at Spool in Philadelphia this very weekend. She's doing a booksigning this Friday evening, from 5 to 8 p.m. Details here. You can pop next door to see her while you're visiting Franklin Habit at Loop. If I can drag myself away from Dolores for a few minutes, I'm hoping to get her to sign my book.