My sewing library…

My first sewing text.

I’ve mentioned before I’m a self-taught sewist. For a long time I figured that anything I couldn’t sort out on my own, I’d ask my mom. This worked well when I lived in my home town, but started to become problematic when I moved out of province. Especially about a year ago, when I was starting to entertain notions of learning how to sew well. One thing I did was do some quick internet surveys of recommended texts on sewing. The idea of actually studying sewing had never occurred to me before, but since I’m a researcher by trade it really was a natural progression. And then, one day around last Christmas, I stumbled on a copy of the “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” at the thrift store.

This was on the short list of recommended texts. I snaffled it up, read through voraciously, and went on to make my daughters some coats. Then I discovered the world of sewing blogs, and the forums on PR, and Burdastyle.com, and, well, I was off.

Well, a few weeks ago, a number of volumes of the Singer Sewing Reference Library showed up at my local Value Village. And I resisted. Probably most of the information was already in my Complete Guide. Probably it was all super-dated, anyway.

And then Cidell went and reviewed one of the volumes. Interestingly, Carolyn also listed the series among her favourite sewing books, but none of the volumes she has are ones that were available to me. And there’s a whole one on tailoring, apparently. D’oh!

My new sewing reference library!

Anyway, yesterday I was feeling a little foolishly flush, and they were still there and, well, they’re only three bucks each, and it’s five for the price of four, and… well, I came home with five of the set.

I did not buy the home dec volumes. Sorry. Maybe I will be more interested in home-dec sewing when I a) don’t live in a bleak rental house decorated in a scintillating palate of cream, ivory, and ecru. And b) can afford to decorate with the kinds of sumptuous fabrics my imagination demands. In the meantime, home-dec sewing = meh (which hasn’t stopped me from sewing my own curtains, or curtains and bed-drapes for my kids, but I’m not going to spend money learning to do it.)

So… Cidell talked about the Activewear volume already. Sewing Essentials seems to cover the basics, which I think I mostly have down when push comes to shove but hey, pictures are always great. Sewing Specialty Fabrics has to be good to have on hand, and covers everything from silk to bouclĂ© to gabardine to lace to fur (fun or otherwise). The Perfect Fit is considerably more detailed than the five or so pages on fit in the Complete Guide, and has a small bit on swayback alteration, although it’s in the pants section, which isn’t was usually gives me the most trouble. I was a bit concerned over Sewing for Style (which style? 80s?), but it’s got a large chunk on tailoring, so I decided to go for it (but see above about the actual tailoring volume). I’d still like to get a real tailoring book at some point, but every little bit helps.

And, there was about 2 yards (just shy of 2m) of this lovely wool tweed. Isn’t that a great heathery-grey-mauve colour? At least half the nice fabric I’ve ever found at Value Village has been lovely wools. I hypothesize that people buy them and then are too intimidated/lazy to actually make the coat, and they end up in the thrift store alongside the godawful polyester and that “what was I thinking?” print. I wish there was enough to make this my Lady Grey Fabric, but even if I used something else for the facings, collar, and belt, I think not. Maybe a nice little blazer instead.

Me and my fantasy blazers. /sigh.

Syo's Pillows

In other news, Syo has been working hard on her hand sewing. She has now learnt to cut her own thread, thread her own needle, and even carefully marks out her stitches on the fabric beforehand. She has been putting these skills to good use creating an assortment of little pillows for the toys of the house.

Her knots, however, leave a little to be desired, as you can see.

We also (sigh) bought Tyo a “play coat” at the thrift store. It’s big, poofy, ugly, water- and wind-resistant, and most importantly easy to move in. Well, easier. There’s always going to be a certain amount of restriction when you look like a marshmallow. Ah, well. At least this way the Princess coat won’t be coming home soaked with muddy slush when the chinooks hit.

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14 Comments

Filed under Sewing

14 responses to “My sewing library…

  1. cidell

    Totally understandable and forgiveable! The Reader’s Digest Guide is the first one I ever had and it’s really how I learned how to sew. The Singer books come in handy when you least expect it. The activewear is really great I think. Until then, I had no rhyme or reason for attaching my elastics and didn’t know a thing about fabric choice.

  2. Corinne

    Do you have access to a inter-loan library system? Tauton Press published a series in the late 90’s “Easy Guide to Sewing….” Pants, skirts , t-shirts etc. There is one on fine fabrics, linings etc. Several different authors were involved in this series. I borrowed every book in the series from my library and studied them, then purchased the ones I wanted at a fraction of the original price on Amazon. Great books, well written, organized and good photography. I applaud you for being so brave with your projects. I used to be that way but now much more cautious. I have wasted a lot of great fabric in the past. I also learned to make muslins for fitting issues, always enjoy your posts.

    • Well, it depends. The public library here stinks (and costs money… not much compared to buying books, but enough to discourage me from using it. I’m not talking bout late fees, either). I haven’t checked out the academic library I have access to for sewing books, though I imagine they could find me most anything ;). I’ve heard good things about the Tauton Press series, too. Borrowing from the library as a prelude to buying is a good idea, though ;)

  3. Hey, I’ve got a copy of the Complete Guide too :) (I recently bought the latest edition a week or so ago too – I wsa curious as to how they compared LOL.) I also succumbed and bought Activewear aftering seeing Cidell’s post & I got the home dec (I case I go all crazy & decide to make new curtains haha).

    P.S. I like the new blog design!

  4. CGCouture

    Love the new blog layout! Very nice! :-)

    I’ve borrowed nearly every book in the Singer Sewing Library series from my “library” (aka my mother-in-law) on a semi-permanent basis. They are excellent books, if you can overlook the dated-ness.

    It’s a bummer that your library system charges money to borrow the books. :-( That would definitely deter me from using them, I think. I love that I can do interlibrary loan and it’s free here, though finding sewing books is nearly impossible–the design schools are the ones that have the books and they refuse to give them up. :-(

  5. like the new blog look! like it! like it!

  6. Tanit-Isis; our friends are from the Yukon Territory, and the oot and aboot accent is quite marked; another commenter on my post mentioned that in Manitoba and Ontario the same accent is used. In fact I didn’t know that Canadians had different accents, until you mentioned it! Which part are you from?
    Our friends also use “Yah!” a lot, and I have adopted this word in my everyday speech too…!
    And your black jeans in the last post are awesome!! The pockets are magnificent!!

    • Hehe. Unless your friends are First Nations, I probably sound the same as them… The Yukoners I’ve met sound just like me, as do most Canadians (I’m from Saskatchewan originally). As for marked regional accents, there’s Quebecois, of course, and the infamous Newfie accent (they sound almost Irish), and a few pockets of gaelic-accented speakers from other parts of the Maritimes. I just don’t hear the “oo” sound. Or a difference between my speech and most of the “generic accent” American’s I’ve met. Of course, I don’t have the world’s best ear for accents, either ;).

      It’s too bad accents don’t come through on blogs… they are so fun to listen to :)

  7. Sewista Fashionista

    I love finding sewing references at my local secondhand store. I have some of the Time books. The photos of clothes are dated but when you need a picture of real cloth undergoing a technique those books can be a godsend. BTW like your new profile pic :)

  8. You have to pay to use the library???? Oh man, that is all kinds of wrong. I am a heavy user of the library and since they started sending me courtesy emails when my items are about to be due I never pay late fees, either.

    I don’t own any sewing reference books. I should probably get around to remedying that.

    • Well, it’s a yearly fee, and it’s not large. About the same as I paid at the thrift store for those books, actually.

      If our local branch did a better job of organizing their fiction (seriously, they don’t even separate out by genre!) I might be less bitter about it ;)

  9. Nice finds! No matter how long you’ve been sewing, it’s great to have sewing books on hand.

  10. Fabb

    That RD sewing book is the one we used in Home Ec in gr 8! Seeing that cover took me back instantly :).

    I really like that wool fabric you found. My VV sucks way down in the SE and all I ever see is horrible poly that gets caught on my chapped hands. Yuck! Maybe I just need to dig better, lol. I know what you mean about the libraries…it was a shock moving from Vancouver and learning I had to pay for a card. Took me a year to get one.

    BTW, the new format looks great.

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