I've been seeing a lot of discussion online recently about the gap in sewing resources between beginning sewists and advanced or couture level sewists. The conversations have struck a chord with me because I think of myself as a very intermediate-level sewist. Like the hypothetical intermediate sewist in these online conversations, I also have no desire to attempt couture techniques at this point in my sewing journey. (Someday I will want to try them, I'm sure, but not with a full-time job where I commute for 1.5+ hours every day and have 2-year-old.) I would, however, love to refine my techniques and add to my repertoire of techniques.
As a busy mom who is largely self-taught, the obvious answer is through books. Unfortunately, most current sewing books are geared either towards beginning sewists and offer mostly basic projects or target couture techniques and tailoring. The beginner-targeted books can be fun and pretty, but I'm probably not going to learn much from them that I don't already know. And, as I previously mentioned, I don't have much interest in couture methods or in-depth tailoring right now. La Sewista recently wrote a really useful post on books for intermediate sewists, and I actually have a few of the reference books on the list, but that's what they are--reference books. I turn to them if I need to sew a placket or something. (Side note: I am going to try to track down some of those Adele Margolis books that she mentions; they sound wonderful.) Don't those of us who are intermediate sewists deserve some fun books, too? Books with fun projects and pretty pictures and current techniques?
If you make the argument that there isn't the market for intermediate-level books, I disagree. We've seen a huge influx in the number of people who have started sewing in the past few years. At some point, some of those sewists are going to want to move past basic beginner projects and onto more advanced projects.
I've put together of list of five sewing and fitting books that I wish someone would write and publish. Some are project-based and some are more reference-oriented, but I think that all of these would help fill that "resource gap" that a lot of us mid-level sewists feel.
Project-based book for intermediate sewistsYeah, so I essentially want something like the Colette Sewing Handbook, but for intermediate sewists. Instead of books with A-line skirt patterns and pull-over blouses, how about a project-based book that features patterns for a pair of fly-front pants, a button-down blouse with sleeve plackets, a lined dress, and a lined jacket with welt pockets?
|Colette Sewing Handbook|
Sewing a coatWhy doesn't this book exist? Seriously, Jenny from Cashmerette is in the process of sewing a coat right now and lamented that helpful resources are all over the internet, but there's no central repository for this stuff. She did, however, do an admirable job of compiling a bunch of coat-making tips, herself. Plus, coat sewing tutorials might tell you what to do, but there's nothing that really tells you what NOT to do, which is often just as helpful. I'm planning to sew a coat (bound buttonholes, interlining, and the whole shebang), and I'd feel a lot less apprehensive about this project if I had a book to walk me through the process from start to finish on a linear path. I want this book to cover the things that my pattern instructions will leave out, including things like back stays, interlining, sewing notched collars. It should explain the pro's and con's about various decisions, such as whether or not to interface the whole coat, bagging a lining vs. hand-stitching, etc.
Troubleshooting book for techniquesReference books and tutorials show you one way to complete a technique. What they don't usually help you with is figuring out what went wrong if the thing you just sewed doesn't look like the pretty picture in the book. For each "problem", the book would have a photo and then describe what went "wrong" for that particular case and then give advice on how to fix it. For example, it might show a picture of a gaping, flappy notched lapel, describe how the sewist failed to stitch to the point and pivot correctly, and then show the right way to do it. You could cover all kinds of technique issues like this. And if someone who's a more advanced sewist than I am wants to tackle this, email me for a list. ;)
|The wonkiness of my first notched lapel collar|
Secrets that home sewers don't know because no one tells themI am ripping off this hypothetical book from this thread on Pattern Review (go to page 6, and scroll down to unfinished project's post in the middle of the page). The idea for this is to point out where most pattern instructions don't usually produce a RTW result. I want a book that tells me how to put a zipper in a lined garment without handstitching. I want a book that incorporates fly shield instructions in with how to sew the zipper fly itself, not as an add-on, "by-the-way" option at the end. My understanding is that Janet Pray's Craftsy class covers a lot of this sort of thing for her denim jacket pattern, but I want a reference that I can read and refer back to when I want to tackle a particular technique.
Sewing for a full bustSo here's a book that I could actually contribute to significantly, if not actually write myself. Fitting the bust is given a chapter, at most, in even the best fitting books. I argue that there's a heck of a lot more to know about fitting the bust and FBAs than can be contained in a 10-15 page chapter. Here's why I'd like to see and think I could fill an entire book on this subject:
- Most fitting books and tutorials only show a small-ish FBA--usually 1". If you're making a large FBA of 2" or more, your pattern pieces will look significantly different than the example shown in the book or tutorial. If you haven't done a ton of FBA's, you'll probably wonder, "Am I doing this right? My pattern piece looks so weird." This book would show the FBA examples for 1" and 3" for every type of FBA.
- Even the best fitting books usually only show FBAs for a darted bodice, one type of princess seam (either shoulder or armhole, but not both), and maybe a raglan or dolman sleeve top. Beyond that, you're basically told to do a darted bodice and rotate the dart somewhere. This can be intimidating if rotating darts isn't old hat to you.
- I'd want a whole chapter on dart rotation--Discussion of the "Big Honkin Dart" problem, how to rotate darts, different location options, and photographs of what those different options look like. Maybe I'd even give some suggestions on which location to use for certain bodice types.
- How to convert darts to princess seams--actually walking through the whole process, step-by-step.
- Finally, there would be a chapter on troubleshooting your FBA. My thoughts on this are similar to the Troubleshooting book I proposed--many times we think that something doesn't look quite right, but we don't know what we did wrong or how to fix it.