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Belated book review – and “in the studio”

January 12, 2012

Sorry for the delay. We just got the kids out of the house and back to their colleges.

The book I’m reviewing today is “How to use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns”, by Lee Hollahan. No one wants to read an entire book review and then find out that the reviewer isn’t recommending the book. It’s a waste of time. So let me say, up front, that the book is worthy of the shelf space it will take up.

As many good sewing books do, this book begins by identifying and defining what tools a sewist will need in the sewing studio. I will say that in my 40 years of sewing, I’ve never had nor needed a pair of serrated scissors. Perhaps once I’ve used a pair, I’ll feel that I simply can’t live without them, but at this point, that’s not the case and I do sew lightweight silks and fine knits. As a home sewist, you will need to make that decision for yourself. The french curves are essential. Even our local sewing/fabric shops don’t sell them, though. G-Street fabrics may have them, as will you local university, if they have a fashion/design dept. This author refers to toiles throughout the book. Many of us call them muslins. What she is referring to, is a preliminary “copy” of a garment that you sew from muslin, or other inexpensive, lightweight fabric, to determine what alterations you will need to make in the garment. If you are designing your own patterns, you will probably have a sloper and it will prevent you from needing to make the fitting alterations necessary with commercial patterns.

In addition, the book covers what styles are good on what body types/shapes and illustrates some fundamental sewing lessons that sewists who haven’t had one-on-one training will find very helpful.

The book has clear illustrations, blocks for designing your own patterns, clear instructions on how to use the blocks and how to alleviate fit problems. The book is very helpful, easy to understand, has good photos to demonstrate the concepts being taught. The book gets 4 of five stars from me. A fifth star would have been for a spiral binding, which is always helpful for an instructional book for hands-on work, allowing it to lay flat, while you progress step-by-step through a tutorial. This is a great addition to my library.


Another student recommended a book on making pouches, and packs and sacks. I’ll be reviewing that book next. The title is, “Sewing Packs, Pouches, Seats & Sacks”.

This week, I’ve been making more insulated curtains and window dressings in an effort to make our house more energy efficient. Each curtain is lined with 100% blackout lining. I’ve also been making custom dust covers for my sewing machine and serger that I, personally, use, because they tend to stay out on the sewing tables where the dust is most likely to accumulate.

Sew Joyfully.



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