Friday, April 27, 2018

The Savvy Seamstress: Book Review and Giveaway

I'm happy to share a review of, and project from, The Savvy Seamstress with you today... and a giveaway if you make it to the bottom of the post!

I'm part of a blog tour for the book... check out the other participants' reviews this week:

4/23 C&T Publishing 
4/25 Annie Mollison @sewthispattern, 
4/26 Leslie Keating @fibresmith
4/28 Nichola Prested @handmakersfactory
4/29 Deepika Prakash 
4/30 Caz Adams @usefulbox, 
5/1 Anne Whalley @annewhalley, 

Note: I was given my copy of The Savvy Seamstress, and the giveaway copy, for free. But all the opinions expressed are my own.

The Savvy Seamstress is a bit different from some sewing books out there. Although the author, Nikki Mallalieu, is a professional pattern designer (I've got one of her You Sew Girl patterns, the Draped T-Dress, in my stash, ready to sew, thanks to the lovely Blogless Anna!), the book doesn't contain patterns, but rather instructions for how to adjust a well-fitting pattern to add or change details. Tricks for customizing your favorite pattern to meet your needs. In other words, it's a pattern hacker's delight!

Want to take your favorite pattern and add pockets? This book has instructions on drafting and constructing your own, with everything from simple patch pockets to professional-looking faced inseam pockets. Change the neckline shape, draft facings, collars or cuffs, add a button band, switch out your invisible zipper for a lapped zip, replace your skirt's waistband with facing... lots of small changes can make a big difference in the look, fit, or feel of your handmade garment! The techniques are relevant, too, no matter what the pattern is and who it's for. Women, men, kiddos... check out Nicole's post on all the ways she altered one blouse pattern:

I really love this approach. I know I'm a bit of a pattern addict, always trying the latest and greatest, but I also appreciate the ability to change little details to make the most of a pattern, like I have with Tim's McCall's 6044 shirts. The instructions in the book are clearly written and easy to follow, and there are plenty of diagrams and photos to illustrate the steps.

I was also delighted to see that this book is not just about minor pattern drafting. The Savvy Seamstress also contains valuable descriptions, clear diagrams and lovely photos demonstrating professional construction techniques for a clean finish. I know I will refer to the book when I want to "up my sewing game," as the ladies of the Love to Sew podcast say. I think The Savvy Seamstress is a fabulous resource for almost every sewist, perhaps with the minor exception of the very advanced or professionally trained.

So which techniques from the book did I use? I started with a basic pattern, the Sew DIY Lou Box Top, the straight hem version with a scoop neck. Using the techniques from The Savvy Seamstress, I drafted a 2" wide neckline facing that merges into a button extension on the back of the top. These are in lieu of the bias tape neckline facing and center back seam at are standard to the pattern.

I'm delighted with how the facing and button back turned out! The instructions were easy to follow and the techniques make for a very tidy finish.

The general shape of the shirt, I have some qualms about, but that's on me, not the book! I wasn't expecting the Lou Box Top to be so cropped. It's far wider than it is long. That may be partially due to a size choice issue. I was between sizes and opted for the larger, and it's just massive, honestly. The proportions seem off to me.

Details on my fabric: this is some Indonesian batik that I bought back when I lived in Jakarta in 2013...  does this deep stash usage count for #makeyourstash? Anyway, I believe the fabric is from a shop in Thamrin City Mall. I'm not 100% sure what the fabric content is... I have a vague recollection of the shopkeeper telling me it was "katun dobi" (dobby cotton), but honestly, it doesn't really feel like cotton. It also doesn't feel like poly, though; no smell when ironing it on high heat, presses easily. It's got a strange texture, with some sections more loosely woven so that they're almost sheer. Who knows?! I paired it with some mother of pearl buttons, also from my stash.

Giveaway: I've got a copy of The Savvy Seamstress available to give away to one lucky reader; just fill out the form by May 2!

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