The Official Publishing Information: Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics
By Wendy Mullin, Eviana Hartman, Beci Orpin (Illustrator)
Published by Little, Brown & Company, May 2008
Background: The other night, I was in the Barnes and Noble in my town. While buying the latest Perseus Jackson book for DS, I saw this book. I picked it up and decided to buy it. I didn’t really look through it, other than to scan the contents. I took it home and had a look and started reading it. After a little bit of reading, I was suitably impressed.
Chapter Headings: The book is organized in an easy to follow manner. The chapters include
Supplies You’ll Demand: Getting Equipped to Sew Knits
Knits and Bolts: Getting to Know Stretch Fabrics
Pattern Recognition: How to Use Them, How to Change Them Up
By the Slice: Preparation and Cutting
A Stitch in Time: Quick Tips for Sewing Knits
Teeing Off: An 8-Step Program for the World’s Easiest T-shirt
The Crewneck: Beyond the Basic Tee
The Raglan: Designing with a Bold Shoulder
Dresses and Skirts: Taking Knits to the Next Level
Recycling: Giving Old Knits a New Lease on Life
The book also includes 3 patterns: Crewneck top, raglan top and dress/skirt
This book is written in an easy to read, conversational style. It’s geared toward the novice knit sewer, and it provides clear instructions how to choose, work with and store knit fabrics. The Stitch in Time chapter takes you through equipment, with heavy emphasis on serger techniques. While the authors do give hints for using a regular sewing machine, it’s very clear that they’re urging the reader to get and use a serger, and possibly even a coverstitch machine, for knits. It also takes you step by step through making a tee. Here they use several variations on construction methods, which really only vary by the methods of finishing edges and necklines.
What I Like About This Book: I really like the writing style. For someone who is a newbie to knits, or a relative newcomer to sewing in general, it’s very accessible and reassuring. I also really like all the ideas the authors have for varying the basic patterns. In the section on crewnecks, they have a whole sub-chapter called Built by You Projects, which take the reader through all sorts of fun variations on the basic crew neck, including V-neck, boatneck, elasticized waist and many others. It’s great for getting the reader’s creative mojo flowing. There are similar projects in the other chapters as well.
The book also includes three very basic patterns, sized from XS to L. I haven’t had the chance to sew them up yet. I may try to make one tomorrow after I finish the Burda dress. At that time I’ll be able to give feedback on it. One thing to make sure you note if you make these patterns: they use 1/4 inch seam allowances. If you’re used to sewing with most “Big 4” home sewing patterns, that is a significant difference.
Dislikes? None, really. I could say that there are a bunch of styles, especially in the dress section, that don’t appeal to me, but that’s a matter of personal taste. The book is very well written. The examples and illustrations are very clear. The visuals are appealing and the chapter and heading titles are cutely named (and I appreciate that, I can tell you). This is a great book for beginners. I will certainly use it as a reference in my knit sewing classes. I may even look into building a class around it.
Conclusion: As I say, I really like this book. I bought it on a whim, and though I consider myself advanced, and already know pretty much everything they explain, I enjoyed reading it. I would definitely recommend it for my students and other sewers.
Tomorrow, it’s back to work on the Burda dress. It’s well on its way. But there are a lot of little details that take time. Stay tuned…