Keywords: sewing, sewing patterns, fashion, accessories, manual, how-to guide, step-by-step, informational, crafty, sustainability.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew. I remember watching my mum in fascination as she used this huge sewing machine she brought from her home country. It always scared and fascinated me – the sharp needle going so fast you couldn’t even see it, the sounds of piercing fabric getting louder and louder…
It was because of this fear that I never learnt how to use a sewing machine growing up. What a shame! Because now that I’ve been learning to sew, I find myself wishing I started earlier! Imagine the clothes I could have made for myself…the scrunchies I could have made for my friends…
Oh well. Better late than never! My journey into sewing is what led me to the book I’m reviewing today: Sew It Yourself by Daisy Braid. I thought it’d be a simple book of sewing patterns, but thankfully it’s also a guide on sewing terms and how to sew.
Did you know that the sewing world has a lot of special words? I definitely didn’t! Thank goodness this book actually explains these words. Otherwise, I’d be completely lost and confused. Some terms you learn about in this book are:
- Weft/Crosswise Grain
- Bias binding
- Toile (pronounced ‘twahl’, since it’s a French word!)
- Seam allowance
- Pinking shears
- Silk crepe de chine (another French word!)
There was another surprise in this book. Apparently, sewing requires maths. Lots of maths (or at least more than I was expecting!). If you want to sew things, you need to understand how to measure. You’ll find a lot of measurement formulas for the sewing patterns so that you know how much fabric to cut. For example, here’s the formula for cutting the fabric for a scrunchie:
Fabric = 12 cm (4 3/4 inches) x 60 cm (23 1/2 inches)
Elastic = 5 to 10 mm x length. (Length = circumference of your wrist + 2cm [3/4 inches] OR 20 to 22 cm (8 to 8 3/4 inches)
I know that might look like a lot to take in (I was pretty flabbergasted when I saw it!). Or maybe you’re more the mathematical type of person, and the formulas aren’t intimidating at all. Great! The thing is, reading these formulas and actually following them are completely different. Once you get your head around all those numbers, it’s surprisingly simple to follow. You basically just get a ruler or measuring tape, draw lines where the measurements in the formula are, then cut out the fabric. It becomes a lot less intimidating when you actually do it!
Now, the most important benefit about sewing has to do with the environment. Think of it this way: we buy and throw out cheap, weak clothes so often that we create a lot of trash. Plus, the workers who make cheap and weak clothes (‘fast fashion‘) often face horrible working conditions, with extremely low wages and dangerous work environments. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone – the workers, the shops, and the people who buy the clothes – to support fashion that’s made ethically? That means making sure the factory workers are treated fairly and the clothes we buy are made to last. By doing this, we also save the environment from unnecessary trash.
One way to be more sustainable is to sew your own clothes! You can either buy your own fabric or even work on old clothes that might not fit you anymore. That’s why it’s so important to know how to sew!
So far, I’ve made a scrunchie and a bag. Don’t tell my friend, but I’m making another tote bag for her birthday! When I’m feeling more confident, I’m totally going to create a Sophie Trapezoid Skirt and a Rectangle-Sleeve Jacket. The instructions in Sew It Yourself are fairly easy to follow, especially if you read the first section (the one that explains all those sewing terms and techniques). In a year from now, when I look at all the clothes and gifts I’ve made, I’ll have Daisy Braid to thank!
There’s a lot to research about sewing and Sew It Yourself provides a lot of that information. So, Sakura is very fond of this book! Gus loves it too – like me, he has always wanted to learn how to sew.