Love At First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking / Tilly Walnes
London: Quadrille, c2014
I've finally got my hands on Tilly Walnes first book, and it really is everything it says it is.
This would be a wonderful choice for an eager beginner: with patterns running from extremely simple (the Brigitte scarf, to teach straight line sewing) to more complex fashions like the Mimi Blouse, or the Morgan Dress, there is a stepped learning curve here. Working in order and making each of the 7 patterns in sequence would be a great way for a beginner to learn many basic skills, as there is a technique explained then used in the next pattern. The steps are clear, with lots of illustration, and would reassure any new sewist.
Besides the patterns, there is also lots of good information on basics of the sewing world - how to buy fabric, how to choose patterns for your style, how to adapt and make patterns your own.
I found the voice of the book very warm and engaging, and with a lot of jargon-free detail to inspire someone not as familiar with sewing. I even traced off the Mimi Blouse, and discovered that the patterns themselves had a lot more information on them than I usually see -- for example, at some edges it was noted which seam this would connect to, ie: "connects to front yoke" or something to that effect. There was also clear notation as to gathering lines, sleeves and so forth. This might be particularly useful to someone who isn't as familiar with pattern-based sewing. Having to trace them might be an extra step that a beginner would need to learn -- although with the massive rise in the popularity of pdf patterns, this is a skill that any modern sewist needs to become familiar with anyway!
Even as a long-time sewist, I enjoyed reading this book and loved all the cute photos and Tilly's aesthetic. I'd probably make only half the patterns here for myself (the Mimi!), but the book is very engaging in any case, and the level of detail and basic, clear explanation makes this one a real winner. I love The Great British Sewing Bee and recall watching Tilly on it, and am so glad she's continued on because she has a real affinity for teaching. I'd recommend this one.