A dear friend of mine gifted me with a wonderful series of books recently- my sewing life is about to be enriched, I feel it.
Have you ever wanted to sew and felt like ‘the Man’ was keeping you down? Do you ever feel stifled by the institutional strait jacket of fit and structure? Don’t let it get you down and harsh your mellow- The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book is here for you!
I have long envied bloggists that do book reviews so I am very excited to take you thru the process of this marvel of a book that will soon liberate us all from darts, bras and societal beatdowns! Here is a quote from the dust jacket:
‘Yes, here is the straight-out dope on how to make your own clothing. No more mystique, no more sexism.’…’ Homemade clothes should not only be a ‘chick thing’. Does your old man need a new sarong? Has his hemp hoodie worn out? Don’t replace- ’embroider on a pretty little patch’!
One more stirring quote before I begin gathering my supplies and we get started on our adventure!
‘There’s a thing about high fashion- it’s pretty much a hype. All this raising and lowering of hemlines, these do-dos and don’t-don’t’s seem to us to be just a way for the clothing industry- big business indeed- to keep their thing going. We find Vogue and Bazaar magazines best for cutting up as collages. They are not under any circumstances to be taken seriously.’
Alright. I feel less uptight already. Or maybe it’s the incense I’ve started burning in the sewing room. Boy, I wish Bruderlein would stop coughing.
Ok, our list of supplies seems reasonable and I already have most of them. Well, except the Raavi Shankar cassette and the copy of Prophet that I’m supposed to have. Well, I’ll pick those up later at the Co-Op I was told to join in the preface.
Now, what to make first.. No, don’t run ahead Anne, that’s a downer. Enjoy the vibrations of the cosmos and read some more Gibran. ‘If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees’. Hmm. This incense is making me really wants tacos..
Basic sewing section:
Casings, clipping curves, elastic, facings, no darts. Wait, what?
‘We don’t use darts on tops because we don’t use bras- they give your clothes a funny shape. If you want to make darts, you can figure out easily enough how to add them to the tops.’
Um, I’ve never really been a fan of the braless ness. My bunnies need a hutch, you know? You really don’t get good cleavage without a bra- I can’t go thru the day lying on my side to maintain cleavage in my braless state?! Ok, chill. This is my homogenized, sanitized, commercial, heavy, repressed upbringing making me sweat this. So I’m going to remove my foundation garments (clearly a man shackle, right?) and my little bracelet that says ‘What would Dita Von Teese Do?’ for this review. Dedication to my craft- I have it. I think I have to adjust my chair now.
‘When you first need to have snaps for something you are making, buy a large card full of assorted sizes; then you have them for next time. Same with needles and hooks and eyes.’
Phew! I was really thinking that my hoarding of textiles and such was going to be a problem with this books principles; luckily I will take this as a consumer compromise.
Another handy tip involves using nylon zippers as the metal is cold and scratchy against bare skin. Why must I have so much bare skin????? You know what else is cold and scratchy? My nipples. Sorry for that info, but I’m still a little bummed about not getting to wear my underwire. I’ll try to stop bringing it up. By God I will try.
Most of our manuals instructions are for hand-sewing. You can’t always depend on having power to run your big business hype sewing machine and as the landfills slowly fill with Berninas and Singers, our planet dies. I’m now so overwhelmed with images of the rainforest glutted with old overlockers that have become nests for toucans..sigh…
I’m torn- to accurately review this book, I should hand sew everything I make, but, as I would like to review this book within the year, I will break down and use this corporate tool- my Singer. Please forgive my lack of dedication.
The section on embroidery and hand-stitching is detailed and thorough. I can now embroider a butterfly, crescent moon or a peace sign on all of my old mans dress pants. He is thrilled.
Special tips about fabrics:
Nap- nap feels groovy. Nuff said.
Grain- grain is well-defined and explained in the paragraph and additional thoughts on working with bias ‘ala Harlowe’.
Taking care of materials-
‘It’s better to take off crepe clothes before frying potatoes, if you don’t like the idea of having them dry-cleaned.’
‘Constant dry cleaning knocks the hell out of a fabric and gives it an unpleasant, chemical smell. Clean wash smells and feels a lot better. Also, washing cuts down on non-bio-degradable plastic bags which end up over the head of your favorite cat or child.’ Folks at home, I did not make that last part up, I swear. Even I would place a cat ahead of a child, even a favorite cat..
For our next installment, I will cover the section on Remodeling Your Old Clothes. I hope that you have enjoyed this peek into a classic, please stick around for more!
In the meantime, I would like to leave you with a thought from the subject of our authors other works:
“The period between four and six in the morning is called the Brahmamuhurta, the Brahmic time, or divine period, and is a very sacred time to meditate.”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
I think I will go put my bra on and watch Project Runway. Oh, and Father- that was parsley. Don’t worry.
photo credits: google Images, The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book, meadhawg, little me. All images remain the property of their original owners.