All Sewn Up: A New Obsession and a Review

Remember when I said I have a tendency to become engrossed in a particular topic? Well, my latest obsession is learning to sew.

It’s actually something that’s been on my to-do list for quite some time. My great grandmother was a seamstress and made me many a frothy, frilly dress when I was a little girl. She occasionally even made socks to match. Unfortunately, she didn’t pass the bobbin on to my mom or to me. So I’m on my own with learning the ropes.

Well, not entirely on my own. This year for Christmas, I asked for and got a decent beginner’s machine (a Brother XL2600i) and Diana Rupp’s Sew Everything Workshop from The book has been my guide so far in these earliest days of sewing adventures and I wanted to offer up a review of how it’s helping so far.

It’s divided up into chapters and starts with the very basics – the basic supplies you’ll need for a sewing kit, how to pick a machine, and how to organize your work space. I found this chapter very helpful, as I would have no idea that I needed things like a seam gauge or a seam ripper.

It goes on to explain the parts of your sewing machine and basic maintenance. I ended up using my machine’s operation manual to learn to thread it, but Ms. Rupp’s book has large color photos of the anatomy of a basic machine, which was a great supplement to the manufacturer’s tiny, crowded drawing.

The chapter on fabrics could have been clearer and had better photos but I suspect this is the kind of info you can only really get by getting into a fabric store, talking to the salespeople and touching everything for yourself.

One of the things I was most excited about in the book (which by the way has a great functional design so that it lays completely flat when open) was the fact that it included patterns and instructions for projects inside. This is the one area where I feel a little disappointed by Sew Everything Workshop.

My first complaint is that the projects aren’t laid out in a clear order. It’s divided into  four sections: clothing, accessories, home, and gifts. But as a beginner’s guide, it would have been much more helpful if it started with the easiest project (a tote bag) first and then moved into patterns of increasing difficulty. Yes, there is a difficulty rating on each of the projects (a one to three spool rating guide). But the order in which it is presented makes no sense. A two-spool project is the first in the section and the tote bag is the 12th!

Another complaint is that there aren’t enough projects like the tote bag for absolute beginners. Or perhaps, they aren’t interesting enough. There are two tote bag designs, a pillowcase, and a pincushion. Now, I don’t expect to be making something amazing in my very first project but a two-piece tunic dress (like the one that will be in my next posting) would have been just as good a beginner piece as the second tote bag, for example, and offers a real sense of accomplishment.

Complaints aside, I really liked this book. The tone is light, friendly and funny and the information has already proved invaluable. And I’ve finished my first project:

Sew Everything Workshop Tote-ally Awesome BagSew Everything Tote-ally Awesome Bag

It’s dark wash denim with a colorful woven cotton lining. I know my cutting skills need serious work. I wield a scissor like a 7-year old (and incidentally, still can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.) Also, I can already see some things I’d tweak if and when I try this one again.

What do you think?


5 responses to “All Sewn Up: A New Obsession and a Review

  1. I think, despite the wonky cutting, you did a great job for a first sewing project. I browsed through Sew Everything but decided not to buy it because it was very similar to Sew Fast Sew Easy, which I already had. But it does sound like a really good choice.

  2. blogofalltrades

    Thanks, ladybean. I hope the cutting skills is a “practicee makes perfect” thing. Is the Sew Fast So Easy book affiliated with the NYC workshop?

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