From Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, © 2014 by Tilly Walnes.
Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.www.roostbooks.com
When I first started sewing I made a lot of pretty hysterical errors.
One time I tried to replicate a Star Wars dress that was originally made in some sort of textured crepe using a very lofty knit fabric just because the color was similar and the texture looked the same. I assumed that the grainline was something anal people bothered with and would cut things wherever they fit at whatever angle they fit and then scoff at the yardage suggestions. Oh, and I never ever finished an entire edge intentionally. There was a phase when I sewed exclusively with my mom’s serger and edges were just sort of finished by default but otherwise everything was just sort of open and happily fraying away on the inside. I’m also pretty sure I lost most of the extra presser feet from my first sewing machine because I thought they were extraneous and unnecessary.
Who am I kidding, I still wouldn’t call myself any kind of sewing guru. Up until a few months ago I was still sewing buttonholes and zippers by hand to avoid learning how to do it on the machine.
In defense of babby Ping, I didn’t exactly have someone ready and available 24/7 to help me figure things out the right way and I was extremely determined to make these garments, right way or not.
Anyway, the point is, ohmylord I wish I had Tilly’s book back then.
Things I was clueless about as a beginning seamstress that Tilly’s Book would’ve enlightened me about:
–Backstitching: Never did this. Always wondered why my seams would come apart. Sometimes I would fray check the ends of my seams in desperation. (Am I sharing too much?)
–Choosing fabric: I had SO much trouble with this. Like that time I tried making Kaylee’s Shindig dress out of cotton batiste. YEAH. That happened.
-Seam allowances: Another thing I assumed was just a helpful suggestion. I would sew Big4 patterns (usually 5/8″ seams) with about a 3/8″ seam and then wonder why their patterns were always so big on me. -headdesk-
–Facings: Those extra pieces were just optional. I never used them. Like actually never.
-Inserting sleeves: For some reason I completely missed the memo on gathering the top of the sleeve piece slightly before inserting it into the armhole so I would inevitably end up chopping off about 1/2″ off the top of the sleeve and then wondering why my shoulders were too tight.
Yes. I’m just going to go hide in a corner now.
The other thing I love about Tilly’s philosophy with this book is that she’s included several patterns meant to help a beginning seamstress learn how to sew without being stuck making pillowcases and curtains.
The Clemence skirt is so cute and such a simple way to get started with sewing and learning the basics. And don’t get me started on the Mimi blouse. And yes, this aesthetic may not be your cup of tea but I love getting people to start sewing and I love the idea of encouraging people to jump right in sewing things they’ll wear and love. (Yes, I was one of those kids whose moms made them sew a million straight lines on scrap fabric before being allowed to touch the fun stuff, why do you ask?)
As someone who’s been sewing for many years, this book wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my need-to-have list, but I’ve been showing it to friends who have expressed an interest in sewing as a means of illustrating how accessible these skills are. (No but seriously, my sister is visiting next week and is being dragged to sewing club where I’ve instructed the Crafty Foxes to convert her. I will also be leaving this book around her vicinity accidentally on purpose. Hee.)
Anyway, on to the fun part: Tilly’s book has finally come to the US and she generously sent me an extra copy of her book to give away to a Peneloping reader!
Just comment below telling me a sewing technique you’ve avoided like the plague or one you’d like to learn. Make sure you include your email so you can be contacted about receiving your prize!
This giveaway is open to US readers only (sorry, international friends!) and will be open until midnight Monday, October 27th. The winner will be announced shortly after.