Once I saw Selfish Seamstress' version of the A-Plus A-Line skirt, I began to daydream about Twinkle patterns. To my luck, my local library had a copy of Twinkle Sews and now that it's time to return it (after three renewals), I'm not sure I can live without it.
I wasn't initially attracted to Twinkle designs not to mention the fact that the patterns are not cut on the fold and you have to print out all those (50+!) pages and tape them together. But with the book on hand to peruse and adore, I've slowly become a convert. Designs that first struck me as "busy" or "not me" now strike me as clever and whimsical and feminine.
But my recent love affair with Twinkle Sews has me thinking about a bigger issue: I have not lavished one of my patterns with all the attention I do my books, though you could argue they serve the same function. And I keep meaning to go the store to pick up some knit dress patterns as they go on sale, but I haven't been motivated enough to go.
Most sewing blogs I read usually focus on whipping up individual patterns. So why books?
Generally speaking, I've always loved books and the universes that live inside them, and I think the same holds true of sewing books. Each book offers me a new way of looking at sewing: it is the universe of a sewer and their outlook on their craft, divulged in each individual project.
The truth is I've made few of the projects in the sewing books I consistently cycle back to, with the exception of Sew U Homestretch, for it's the only book with patterns about sewing knits. But I've got the other two Sew U books by Wendy Mullin, Do-It-Yourself Patterns by Cal Patch, Little Green Dresses by Tina Sparkles, and likely soon, Twinkle Sews. My two sewing technique books, Readers Digest something and McCalls vintage something else, I've (obviously) never really opened.
Then what's the point? Why own them if I hardly make the projects they offer? Well, I like the possibility. One book—about the price of one full price pattern, it's worth mentioning—offers more than 20 projects. But the important point is that I gain courage and inspiration reading them, which is something I only get in fits and starts from patterns.
In the Sew U series, I am introduced to the idea that there are basic shapes for all our clothes (skirts, shirts, pants, dresses) and that the variations are only limited by my imagination. I feel imbued with the playfulness of a designer and have the confidence of understanding how most contemporary clothes are put together. I get excited by making simple clothes, about returning to the same pattern again and again, to make it better.
In Do-It-Yourself Patterns, I'm invited to look at my body as a template for the clothes I'll wear, to unlocking some of the mysteries of why clothes do and don't fit me, to understanding the lines and curves of printed patterns (incredibly helpful when altering patterns!). It's my Sew U prequel. And Little Green Dresses, while offering an ethos I dig (eco-friendly by re-using fabric) and that appeals to the thrifter in me, also offers another perspective on pattern drafting.
Twinkle Sews makes me think in terms of pattern and texture. I feel a little Girl Next Door and a little Rock-n-Roll. Never would I have thought of using fabric cut on the bias as a raw edge (since it doesn't ravel), lending both a clean finish and a sense of being deliberately undone.
And it's individual patterns that bring me into the nitty-gritty, into technique, into more sophisticated projects. A book feels open-ended, whereas a pattern has a specific destination. Books have voices, personalities -- do you think the same holds true for patterns?
But what about you? Are you a pattern-person or a book-person? A something-else? I'd love to know. :)
What books do you turn to? Or what patterns?
(Don't forget about the giveaway!)
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