Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sewing Book Review

I have not been super happy with how my sewing projects have been coming out lately which has left me a little uninspired.  My French Wiggle Dress is beautiful, but the fit is just not quite right.  I also haven't been feeling well, which makes me feel less inclined to dress up and care about how I look.  So, I decided to focus on learning to sew a few less-fitted pieces that I can wear around the house rather than just for getting dressed up and going out.   I started with a 1930's jumper pattern that I put a lot of time into but it ended up being pretty disappointing in the end.  Maybe some day I will be inspired to get back to it again and try to make it a little more wearable, but for now it is going in a drawer until I am feeling the inspiration to work with it again.   

So, I decided to buy  the book Chic & Simple Sewing by Christine Haynes.  You can find the book on Amazon, and I'm sure many other places.   What appealed to me about this book was that it came with 20 easy looking patterns, all for pretty loose fitting dresses, tops, jackets and more.  Best of all, each project looked quick to make and had no zippers or button holes to sew!  My hope was that having some sewing success with easy to make tops and dresses I can wear lounging around the house might be just the boost I needed to get out of my sewing rut.  

I got this book last week, and although the patterns in it are lovely and easy to sew, I am not sure I would recommend this book to others for a few reasons.  First of all, the directions are pretty horrible and hard to understand.  If I had never sewn before, I think that this book might have confused me so much that I might have quit sewing after my first project.  But, if you are a pretty experienced sewer and you can figure out these patterns based on experience, this book is probably not for you because these patterns will not challenge you.  Also, there are almost no diagrams, which are what I find the most helpful.  

Lastly, it really bothered me that the patterns only came in three sizes: S, M, and L, and the largest size fit my measurements, meaning that anyone over a size 8 is too big for this book.  In fact, the largest hip size recommended for the Large pattern size was 39", and mine are 41".  Even I am technically too big for this book!  This cuts out a lot of beginner sewers who would have probably looked really great in these fashions as they don't seem to be designed with really tiny girls in mind in the first place.   

Still, I am excite to try several of the patterns out, even though I am a bit nervous that I will get lost in the construction stage.  A lot of the patterns are connected and variations of the same dress or top, but that doesn't bother me one bit as they are all pretty cute, and I don't mind sewing variations of the same dress over and over again (as you may have noticed with the Peony Dress, that I have featured here several times, and also made for three of my friends!).   

So, the first pattern I have attempted is the Baby Doll Top.  It is closed at the back of the neck with a snap (the book suggested using a hook & eye, but the snap looked better to me).  

I changed the pattern just a bit by making the sleeves extra puffy in an attempt to mimic 1940's style sleeves. The effect came out pretty great in my opinion.  :)  Actually, I like how this shirt turned out quite a lot.  

I am excited to try more patterns in this book, and even if this shirt is the only thing I can figure out how to make, I am still glad I bought it.  However, if you are new to sewing, I would still recommend The Colette Sewing Handbook, or really any pattern marked "Beginner" from their site.  The clothes are lovely  and the directions are easy to follow, PLUS they use great diagrams to show you each step of the sewing process.  Maybe I just got spoiled by using their patterns first, but it has been a challenge for me to find any patterns that I like even half as much.  


  1. You made such a cute top!
    It's really annoying when you don't feel too good, your projects don't work out as you want and that sizing in that book... that is just wrong. I hope you feel better soon and that this top is the start of lots and lots of really succesfull sewing projects :)

    1. Aww thank you! I hope so too! Thanks for your comment. I always love to see how your sewing projects are going! :)