Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sewing in a Straight Line

I recently came into possession of a copy of Sewing in a Straight Line, by Brett Bara.  While I'll say right off the bat that there's not a lot of new information in this book for me (possibly because I already have the Leaning Tower of Sewing Books?), I think it's a great book for beginners or near-beginners, particularly the fearless types that seem to be around these days!

You really don't need fancy techniques to stitch awesome things.  If you can sew a straight seam, you can make a world of projects, and this book will take you step-by-step through everything you'll need to know to get the job done.

The book is divided into 4 sections: Getting Started (which include basic tools and supplies, hand sewing, machine sewing, basic techniques and fabric basics); Straight-Up Chic Fashion, which features skirts, a blouse, a shirred maxi, a cardigan, and more; Cozy, Crafty Home - curtains, zippered throw pillows, shams, duvet covers, a quilted throw and a (deliberately) wonky patchwork quilt; and Quick, Cute Gifts, including fabric flower bowls, a baby quilt, an adorable sewing kit (!), stuffed animals and more.

Sewing kit - how cute!
What I really liked about this book was that the author tackled what many beginners would consider to be complicated techniques - the shirred maxi, for example - and breaks it down to something as simple as a rectangle of fabric, stitched along the top with elastic thread.  It's a straight line, get it?  Just the thread is different. Don't be frightened, pick up the fabric and see what happens. 

Don't be afraid - remember, it's only fabric and thread, and the worst that will happen is that you'll tear out your stitches and sew another seam.

Shirred maxi dress
There are no patterns in the book, other than templates for the diamond quilt.  Since all the clothing is based on squares or rectangles, the instructions simply tell you how and where to measure yourself, and how much ease to add to make it fit. In some respects this is way less limiting than following a pattern, depending on how your brain works.

You can customize each of the garments to your own body size for a fit that's sure to flatter.  Before you begin, take your body measurements (or better yet, have a friend take them) and write them down.  If you have doubts about any project, sew a muslin sample first to gain a firm understanding of the construction process and work out any kinks related to size, fit and sewing techniques.

Fabric flower bowls
Techniques that seem too complicated for the sewists this book is directed at, but aren't: shirring with elastic, basting, quilting and binding a quilt, installing zippers, buttons and buttonholes, elastic, French seams, sewing with vinyl/pleather, adding hardware to a bag, and more.

Go green!  Old clothing is a fantastic source of fabric for new sewing projects.  Scour the thrift store or your own closets for pieces to harvest.  (The men's section of thrift stores is as great place to start, as the garments are usually larger and sometimes the dressier pieces are barely worn).

Layout for diamond quilt
All in all, this is a great little book - clearly explained, well illustrated with drawings and photos, and full of projects that will appeal to a variety of people.

Matter of fact, it's the kind of book I wish someone had given me when I was starting out.  So . . . if you're a beginner, and think this book is for you, leave a comment telling me why you think it's something you need, and I'll ask Lily the Sewing Room Cat to choose a random winner on Saturday.


Pretty Kitty said...

I would love to win this book. I'm new to sewing and have been buying fabric and notions, but for some reason am unable to conquer my fear to get started. This book looks like just the thing to get me sewing!

Auset's Stitched Treasures said...

I'm not a beginner, but this book is added to my list of must haves to share with the curious sort when they come to visit. The projects seem simple enough that my niece can complete a project when she comes to visit at the weekend.

flowergarden129 said...

I just bought a sewing machine for a friend who has always wanted to learn to sew and who recently did me a tremendously generous favor. I think this approach to sewing would be right up her alley, and I hope I win the book to give to her.

flowergrrl said...

I've been a beginner for 30 years! Really, though, I think this book might be just the thing for my 12yo girl who is interested in learning how she can translate her original ideas into tangible objects.

Kiwibirder said...

I am an absolute beginner--haven't even decided on what sewing machine to buy yet, and can barely thread a needle and sew on a button. I am also a big fan of Brett Bara, so this would be the perfect "get started" guide for me. Would LOVE to win a copy! Thanks for the giveaway!

Kelly P.

Jennianydots said...

You said exactly what I needed to hear about this book- that it's for beginners! I've followed Brett's blog for awhile now and have been totally jealous of her mad sewing skills. This book will get me on the road to sewing like a pro! Thanks for the great review!