Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (1985 reprint) is well written and thorough. In 500 pages, it takes you from basic hand stitches to tailoring procedures and has clear, easy-to-follow diagrams. I’ve read positive reviews of earlier editions of this book (first published in 1978) so grab a second-hand copy but note that more recent editions may not have the chapters ‘Sewing for the Family’, ‘Sewing for the Home’, and my favourite ‘Designing Your Own Patterns’.
’Design Your Own Dress Patterns: a Primer in Pattern Making for Women who like to Sew’
By Adele Margolis, available ‘used’ only. I ordered my 1969 edition after Gertie’s recommendation and nearly wept with joy when it arrived from Cambridge, aged but well-tended, with breezy illustrations and Margolis’ go-ahead for any dressmaker capable of demystifying commercial patterns to begin creating her own. Something that had always eluded me was an understanding of what is ‘dart control’. Margolis explains clearly how dart control bridges the difference between the smaller parts of the body and the larger ones, the so-called “high points” (the bust, the hips, the shoulder blades) which require the most fabric.
Though the author’s experience is apparent, her tone had me convinced this book had been written by a modern girl-about-town, as elegant as the accompanying drawings. In fact, Margolis was born in 1899 and it is pure luck that in the latter half of her life she was persuaded to pass on her knowledge in books – and that she could write well. In her nineties, she became a poet.
If you’re interested in pattern cutting, buy this book! Give it a good home before word gets round and the remaining copies rocket in price the way vintage patterns have.
Akiko Mano: Fashionable Clothes Girls Like
Would you like to make girls’ clothes that are both ‘”Wow”‘ and understated? The photographs in the book show clothes made up in natural fibres and earth tones that enhance the simple yet charming designs and don’t detract from the loveliness of their models. In over 25 patterns, there are dresses (including winter play dresses), trousers, shirts, a hat and even a cape! The book’s available in the original Japanese and translated into French but if you speak neither of these languages, you could possibly get around it with a little help from your blogging friends…
Pattern Magic, Pattern Magic 2 and Pattern Magic Stretch
Tomoko Nakamichi’s books of her inventive designs are gaining cult status in the sewing blog community. Feast your eyes with concepts such as the “drop hole” or “the ball accordion sleeve” (on left) but don’t expect detailed instructions on how to recreate them. Instead, you’ll find pointers. The rest will take a little daring and a lot of paper. Pattern Magic Challenge anyone?