Saturday, 4 September 2010

Sew like a pro

I wish I could (sew like a pro). I'm learning.

I bought this fabulous book from the awesomest second-hand bookstore, Hard To Find (But Worth The Effort) Books. Yes, that is really what it's called. It's just down the road from my place. The book cost $12. I can't believe it's former owner let it go (though given it's age, perhaps it's former owner has met an unfortunate end).
The original version of "McCall's Sewing in Colour" was written in 1963. My edition is from 1971. The amazing thing is that EVERY SINGLE THING in here is still relevant and useful. Well, except for the part that tells you what to wear for each occasion.... have closer look at my favourite suggestions:
You're only lowering your own morale, you know.
McCall's better not catch you wearing pants in the city.
Sewing techniques really haven't changed since electric sewing machines were first available. The technologies have improved though - a 'good' sewing machine in the 60s would do both straight and zig-zag stitches! I think it's a total waste of money for a beginner sewer to buy an expensive machine though. Mine is a $200 Brother from Spotlight.

What this book makes abundantly clear is that good results come from good technique, not good machines. My favourite chapter talks about the 'professional' finishing touches, which is what makes the difference between ordinary clothes and lovely ones.

There is not a missing detail in the whole book. Aside from tips and techniques, it talks about drafting patterns, alterations, dressing for your figure, descriptions of useful tools and notions, and how to make a bought pattern truly your own. It even has instructions for various "figure ailments", such as this:
Flat derrière is not a problem that I have. But at least my feet aren't on backwards.
I wish I'd had this book from when I first started sewing, though it's never too late to learn. I wonder if high school textile classes today use similar texts. I'm sure they don't just teach the students to wing it (like I have been for the last 27 years)...

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