Today we're excited to bring you something a little different from all the Rumana Coat Sewalong action we've been knees deep in recently - a book review! It's always so thrilling when a sewing pal - or anyone actually! - comes out with a new book. We will never tire of pouring through new projects, soaking up new nuggets of sewing information and inspiration, and that feeling of satisfaction as we add another beautiful book to our ever growing collection. Despite the infinite universe of knowledge out there on the internet, you just can't beat a good collection of books, we reckon.
Anyone familiar with her last book, A Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts (and you can read our review of that one here), will know that Wendy has a knack for making the sometimes pretty daunting world of sewing approachable, non-judgemental and straightforward for beginners. As it should be!
With plenty of handy information tables, cheat sheets and bullet point lists, Wendy clearly and expertly breaks down the relevant know-how needed for successful sewing with knitted fabrics. I would even go as far as to say that the first 37 pages are like a condensed mini-Bible on sewing knits. All you need to know.
The patterns themselves offer the perfect learning curve. A casual and cosy capsule wardrobe with which to practice your newfound skills! I love that each design starts as a simple staple - t-shirts, vests, lounge pants, jersey dresses, kimonos all covered, and more - and evolves as Wendy offers multiple variation and elaboration options thereafter.
I decided to sew the first pattern I fell for, and one that I knew right away was exactly the thing missing from my me-made wardrobe: the Peak T-shirt - a loose fitting long sleeved tee.
The kind of thing that you'd pick up on a whim at Urban Outfitters on sale, one size too big, that ends up becoming the one thing you never want to take off. This pattern, made up in an appropriately retro orange and white stripe viscose jersey from Minerva Fabrics, was a match made in my 70s summer dreams.
Please excuse the slightly wrinkled appearance - I literally haven't taken this t-shirt off since I made it!! Already have firm plans for another very soon....
In a word: pie. As in, easy as.
The only fiddly bit I have to mention - and defend! - is the overlaid patterns which need to be traced before use. I know that not being able to dive right in and cut your size directly out of the pattern paper can instil massive dread into the heart of many sewists, but it's important to be aware of the fact that providing individual sheets of pattern paper for each of the 20, yes twenty! designs given in the book would simply cost and weigh too much to be a viable option for a book. All I can say is, take a few deep breaths, stick on your favourite TV show / podcast / record and get ready to trace! You'll thank yourself later :)
Wendy's colloquial style and hand drawn diagrams - plus the fact that there aren't any notches on this pattern, just the instruction to fold the sleeve in half and pop a pin in at the fold to indicate where the sleeve head should meet the shoulder seam - inspires an intuitive approach to sewing.
Viscose jersey is among the trickiest types of knitted fabric to work with, being so fluid and drapey.
However, with lots of pins and the right machine settings (Wendy's handy guides make this part a breeze), plus my one true love Johnson (that's my Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 - Pfaff sewing machines have this genius inbuilt IDT system - basically a feed dog attached to the foot so the machine feeds the fabric through from the top AND bottom, making sewing stretchy fabrics a flawless experience *sigh*) I didn't encounter any hiccups sewing my T-shirt, and the end result has barely left my body.
Get it. If you're new to knit fabrics and want a concise, informative and inspiring place to start and progress, this is the book for you. If you already have experience sewing knits, this book is still well worth it for the versatile patterns and cheat sheets (seriously, I'm going to photocopy some of them and stick them up in my sewing room). I love that throughout the book Wendy suggests fabrics that are more suitable for beginners, and how to up the ante as your skills and confidence improve.
All in all, a roaring success! Huge congratulations on another brilliant book, Wendy!! Massive thanks to Cico Books, Minerva Crafts and of course, Wendy Ward herself for inviting us to take part in the blog tour for A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics! If you haven't already, make sure you check out everyone else who participated in the blog tour, and their gorgeous makes!