I have a cold at the moment, so if this doesn't make sense let's just blame it on that. I was kind of hesitant to write this review because I think some of the issues that I have with this book are just me, and what I personally like/dislike. I love Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing and I was excited when she announced that she was writing a sewing book. I was excited when she showed some of the clothes she'd made from patterns in the book. I pre-ordered it and got my copy a couple of weeks ago. I was really excited (sensing a theme yet?) when I got it and had a quick glance at it, but the more I look at it the more disappointed I am. There are definitely some great things about the book, but I'm just not sure that I will get much use out of it.
|I like this. The fabric is lovely. It reminds me of a quilting cotton I have in my stash ;)|
I love that she acknowledged the complications of being a feminist and loving vintage clothing. I don't really talk about it here, but, as a femme and a feminist, I have a pretty complicated relationship with the way I dress and the way that I'm perceived by people because of that.
There are tons of techniques for those who are just out of the beginner stage. There are instructions about finishing techniques, hand stitches, bound buttonholes, covered buttons etc.
The book includes the patterns so it's a pretty good deal considering how expensive a single pattern can be. I know they have 99c sales in the US, but here in NZ new patterns are around $20-25 and around $10-15 on sale.
The illustrations by Sun Young Park are gorgeous.
I like the tone of the book. It is really friendly and conversational. Some sewing books can be intimidating because they use all sorts of terms without explaining what they mean and assume you already have a lot of knowledge.
The Problems I have
The book says, "most women are a size bigger in the hips than in the waist". I'm not sure if this is a fact or just Gertie's experience but, in any case, it's definitely not true for me. The patterns are based on the idea that most women have a 12 inch difference between their hips and waist. I don't doubt that there are lots of women out there that are that shape but I think it's a stretch to say that "most" women are that shape. On the sizing chart my bust and waist measurements match up with a size 4 (my waist is actually slightly larger than a size 4 but smaller than a size 6) but my hips are smaller than the smallest size. I am small, but my figure is not particularly boyish. There is a discernable difference between my hips and my waist but, according to this, my hips are more than two sizes smaller than my waist. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great there are patterns out there that cater to different shapes. Sewaholic Patterns, for example, makes patterns to suit "pear shapes" (her words, not mine). They are cute patterns, but I've never bought any because I know they wouldn't suit me. I just wish that it had been made clear that the patterns in the book were drafted for a really hourglass-y figure because I probably wouldn't have bought it if I had realised that I would need to change the patterns a lot to make them fit me. I know I'm very lucky that my measurements (apart from my height) are usually pretty close to the vintage patterns I sew, but that's why I use them, because modern patterns don't usually fit me well either.
I guess I'm a bit sensitive about this because I use quilting cottons a lot (because they have the best novelty prints ever), but in the book it says that they are "all wrong for garments". I dispute this. Sure, they are wrong for some garments, in the same way that all fabrics are wrong for some garments. I mean, I wouldn't use wool to make a sundress but that doesn't mean that there aren't things that wool is good for. I find that quilting fabrics are the perfect mid weight cottons for shirtdresses, blouses and skirts. One of my favourite dress, the map print one, is made of from quilting cotton and I love it.
I was disappointed with some of the garments in the book because Gertie had posted on her blog some of the clothes she had made with the patterns in the book and I loved them. I would never comment on the fit of something sewn by an amateur sewer because I am not great at fitting either, but in a published book about sewing it does irk me a bit to see some garments that don't fit very well.
Before the release of the book, Gertie posted this dress on her blog. Above is the version in the book. I really love the version she posted on her blog but I don't really care for the one in the book. The satin puckers rather unflatteringly (which satin does) and the fit doesn't seem to be that great. Maybe it's just the fabric because the one I linked to above seems to fit her well. Similarly, I love this version of the wiggle dress posted on the blog, but I don't really like the one in the book. If I hadn't seen the other versions on her blog that I like better I probably wouldn't have been so disappointed in the ones in the book.
I'm not sure what's wrong with this hem, but it does seem a bit sloppy in a book about couture-style sewing.
I don't mean to be harsh in my criticisms but I had really high hopes for this book and I am disappointed. Obviously, writing a book takes lots of work and I doubt I would be able to do it. I love Gertie's blog and the things she makes, I think I just expected to like the book more. I'm sure it's a great book for people that want to learn more intermediate and vintage sewing techniques. A lot of the patterns aren't really my style even though most of the time I 'sew retro' so I guess some of it is down to personal taste.