books: a pair of sewing books

by Admin on 27/05/2011

in Books

ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs
by Jenny Wilding Cardon, (Martingale & Co February 2011).

Are you a pattern kinda stitcher or more the make-it-up-and-see-what-happens type? I am rather a maverick when it comes to sewing and more often than not I make it up as I go along. Patterns are not really my thing and as a result I tend to end up with a few projects that arguably would have been better off as great ideas that never got off the ground! It’s all part of the fun of creating. And given that most of the fabric I use for making clothes is found in an op-shop (thrift store), the mishaps are never worth a fortune. My favourite item I ever made was a ball gown from bronze coloured 1970’s shot silk curtains that cost me $30!

So, it was with great delight that I came across ReSew. While there are many patterns in this book, my favourite thing about the approach of author Jenny Wilding Cardon is her encouraging nature. Statements such as “Design diversions are welcome here.” and “Use the designs on the page. Then jump.” hooked me right in.

There’s the story of how Jenny began thrifting to hints on shopping second-hand. The patterns are easy to read and use and are well illustrated with tips (or “retips”) for techniques that the reader may not be familiar with.

But, here’s my favourite part, the bit that really got me excited: The designs are as simple or as complex as you dare make them and each project comes with a list of suggestions for “design diversions” – ideas, amendments and thoughts for adding a personal touch to your project.

I made the happy hat, mitten, and scarf set for each of my daughters and completed them in a little under an hour and a half. I do have to confess that I did the detailing with fancy machine stitching rather than hand-sewing but to have two complete winter sets in such a short timeframe and for only a $3 sweater each, I am super impressed. [See middle pic above. Ed.]

Next on my list is the cuffed skirt using men’s suiting… or perhaps the knit-knot T-shirt… I have so many sticky notes on these pages I’m not sure where I’ll start – perhaps I’ll wait and see what the op-shop gods deliver!

Fabric Remix: Repurpose & Redecorate with Simple Sewing & Easy UpholsterySewing Craft Books) by Sandy Stone, Lark Crafts

Are you one of those people for whom “re-purposing”, “re-mixing” and “up-cycling” are new concepts? Or do you, like me, now just have a name for that thing you’ve always done?

Wealth was never a reality in our home while I was growing up. Make do, re-use and bargain hunt were definitely the concepts we lived by. And I am ever so grateful to my mother for teaching me how to shop at charity stores, clearing sales and deceased estate auctions long before it was fashionable to do so. I can remember from an early age being taught the importance of using what was already available and only purchasing new as a last resort.

As I have grown up and now have children of my own, economic necessity is not the driving force for my thrifty approach but rather an awareness of the planet’s finite resources and a desire to have my girls grow up in an environment where consumerism is a distant land.

I still have an enduring love for finding an old item and making it new again. Coming across fabric remix was like walking into my very own comfort zone. Sandy Stone’s atypical approach to a craft book resonated with me. And while I have been re-fashioning old clothing, curtains and other fabrics for some time, there is a whole load of motivation to be found in these pages.

This book is an awakening for me. Although our home is furnished with almost exclusively second-hand furniture and many of the “decorator items” such as throws and pillows are made with thrifted materials, Sandy has managed to provide a fresh approach and a whole new level of enthusiam for me.

From her inspiration to sources to materials to care instructions, there is an array of original and interesting information presented in an easy to read and even easier to follow format. And in the “obi totes” I found an exciting use for a whole stack of cotton curtains and fabric belts that I’ve been saving for a rainy day…

About the reviewer: Julie is the slightly unhinged mum of two beautiful little girls (and another baby on the way), she enjoys the thought of pursuing creative interests but never seems to have the time! Julie blogs at Relish.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vicki K May 27, 2011 at 11:41 am

I haven’t read ReSew – looks great! But do have Fabric ReMix and love it – even if there were no text, the photos alone are inspiring and beautiful. The text is conversational and friendly. The book inspires you to think of how you could use what you already have or will come across.


2 Jenny Wilding Cardon June 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Hi Julie, I just wanted to thank you for such a kind review of ReSew. Your hat and scarf turned out so great–gives me goose bumps! Your little girl is such a sweet pea. :)

Thanks also for introducing me to Fabric Remix, it looks like a really good read. Best to you!


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