Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sewing books: modern & retro styles

When I returned from my European holiday, two new sewing books were sitting on my desk: Home Sewn by New Zealand Fashion Museum and Gertie's New Book for Better sewing by Gretchen Hirsch. Whilst the latter is well-known and widely-discussed within the sewing community, the former probably remains unfamiliar to most. 

Home Sewn provides an insight into the history of home sewing in New Zealand and features prominent local designers. Various sections of the book explain the history of fashion in NZ, introduce local fashion designers and showcase some sewing techniques.

The transparent plastic cover protects the soft cover book. It looks classy, don't you think?
Dedicated to a new wave of fashion designers in New Zealand, the book features 10 young designers each of whom shared one pattern from their recent collection. Here are the links to the designers' websites: Company of StrangersCybeleKatie-Maree Cole, Lela JacobsPapercut PatternsStarfishTK Storetwenty-seven namesVaughan GeesonWORLD

No sewing book is complete without some explanation of sewing techniques 

This gorgeous jersey jumpsuit from TK Store caught my eye!

The only designer I'd heard of before I got the book. 
You can wear this dress in four different ways! The only problem: because of the dark color of fabric, it's impossible to see the lines on the garment

Love the print on this t-shirt

Most patterns shown in this book are quite easy to sew and suitable for beginners. If you are looking for a fresh and modern touch to your hand-made wardrobe, you will find lots of new additions: from skirts to trousers, from dresses to tops.

The verdict: this book is interesting, educational and definitely worth buying. We hear a lot about fashion from the US, Asia and Europe, but our attention turns rarely towards Australia and New Zealand. I find the attempt of the New Zealand Fashion Museum to promote local designers and shed the light into the country's fashion history remarkable. You can order it from Papercut Patterns website for NZ$45 + NZ$5 international shipping which converts to around €31.50 or $39.80 including shipping. Seriously, ladies, hurry up!

The second book needs less introduction. Many of us had been waiting for Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing since she announced it in 2011. Before I received the book, I got a sneak preview both from Gertie's blog and from bloggers in the US who bought it before me.

Because Gertie shares most of the garments on her blog, I just wanted to highlight my favorites which are now on my sewing 2012 list!

So pretty from the inside!

The Wiggle dress
OK, I am not a "retro" person, but I realized that my wardrobe lacks essential classics. Some people think that I dress like a teenage boy. With no prescribed dress code in my company, I come to the office in shorts/jeans and t-shirts almost every day. Until recently, I was never bothered about having a feminine look, but sewing has made me more and more aware of the beauty of a classic silhouette and simple lines. The styles featured in Gertie's book could not suit the purpose better.  

What is your style? Would you like to discover a new style for yourself? 


  1. Welcome back! How was the tambour embroidery? It would be great if you show us how you have worked (been still working?) on the first project.

    The New Zealand book looks amazing! I'm really interested. If you had posted this information one day earlier, I should have looked for this great book at bookstores in Manchester or at Heathrow airport.....
    So, for a time being, I would look forward your new dresses out of this great book.

    1. Thank you, Sen! The classes were amazing and one of my next post will be about it. During the week that I spent taking classes I have leant all possible techniques on the tambour embroidery instead of working on a particular project. I need to practice before I can embroider an actual garment.

      You could not buy this book in the UK since they sell it only in NZ (at the moment).

  2. The New Zealand book looks amazing. Thanks for turning my attention to it - it's on my wish list!

  3. Fab books. I haven't got my copy of Gertie's as yet. Just ordered the NZ book, $NZ50 seems like a real bargain

  4. Girl, out of all the sewist in the blogging community, you get the award for reading the most books! Every time I visit your site, you're reading another book.

    What a great question... would I like to change my style? My answer to your question is that I feel as if I haven't found my style yet. When I walk out the door in the morning to go to work, I love my outfit but by the end of the day, I hate it. I have a lot of learning to do with my style. So, I can't change my style if I haven't found it yet. You know?

    1. Hmmm I am sure if you ask people who follow your blog they will say that you definitely have a style ;) At least, the one you project to the outside world through your writing and photos. True, we don't see you in the everyday life.

  5. I love Home Sewn- it's on my birthday list. Thanks for the great peek inside :)
    In regards to style- it's something I really want to think about. I need to start building a distinctive style rather than skittling between projects like a silly monkey. While it's fun I have very little that matches... I look forward to seeing what you make out of both of these :D

    1. I know what you mean: lots of clothes nothing to wear :)

  6. Thanks for the reviews! I bought the Sewn book based on Kirsty's review. It isn't here yet but seeing your review has me even more excited about it XD I also bought a grading book so I can grade the one-size patterns down to my size. Should be good practice given that most of these look pretty simple to work off of.
    The Gertie book I'm uninterested in (not my style + I have enough patterns of that sort in the mags I already own) and the images I'm seeing across the blogosphere have me pretty unconvinced about the fit: for example the weird bagginess in the front of that pencil skirt (visible zipper at the back) and the fit of that polka dotted blouse/the strange lumpiness around the buttons.. I'm pretty interested in seeing the pattern reviews on what people end up sewing from it (in terms of fit, sizing etc..).

    1. Simple: that's what I like about Home Sewn! I had already few sewing projects in my sewing pipe-line, but I think some priorities will be pushed back. Can't wait to start working on the jumpsuit this weekend.

      As for the Gertie's book.... I am quite biased. Recently I started working on her Starlet Jacket and the fit is rather *ahem* strange. What I like in the book is the explanation of the sewing/tailoring techniques. Stay tuned for the pattern reviews! I hope to finish the pencil skirt and the polka dot blouse in a flash of light ;)

  7. Welcome!!! Thanks for sharing these two books, in my tiny town, I´ve never found books interesting...
    Por cierto, ¿qué tal fueron tus clases de bordado en Paris? Yo me he apuntado a una clase de bordado en Bilbao, solo es un día, pero espero aprender cosas bonitas!

    1. ¡Fueron estupendos! Ahora hay que practicar y practicar. Muy pronto voy a compartrir con ustedes mi aventura de bordado :) ¡Pero que interesante tus clases en Bilbao! ¿Es un clase de grupo? ¿Que tipo de bordado aprendes?

    2. Si va a ser en grupo. La clase será en "Ah Moda!" y la profesora será Laura Ameba. El curso se llama la "Aguja Mágica", es para bordar con una aguja hueca y se consiguen bordados tridimensionales. ¡Qué ganas tengo de ir!

  8. Thanks for sharing these two reviews! Particularly Home Sewn, I had heard of it but it's good to now know more. I didn't know it had patterns either - they look great!

    1. Just to mention that most of the patterns are only in one size (M, 10 or 12) . Some grading knowledge can be very helpful here!

  9. Wow - thanks for bringing that NZ book to my attention! I really love how New Zealanders are great at getting behind their own and promoting local ideas and talent. That book is a seriously awesome idea, and I'm off to enquire about ordering it.

  10. I love the patterns in the Home Sewn book! Can't wait to take a little peek ;)

  11. Oooh, I do like the look of the Home Sewn book. Thanks so much for the review and sneak peek!

  12. You should check the home sewn facebook page- there was an exhibition to go along with the book. The cybele dress looks amazing sewn up

  13. Do you mean New Zealand Fashion Museum page or HomeSewn? I do follow the former but could not find the latter :( I would love to see the cybele dress!

  14. sewinginathens.wordpress.com28 September 2012 at 16:34

    Thank you for the tip on where to order the Home Sewn book! I have been drooling over it on amazon, but their price is definitely higher and this is the reason why I haven´t bought it yet!

  15. Glad it was helpful! I am looking forward to see couple of new dresses added to your collection!

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