Freehand Fashion: Learn to Sew the Perfect Wardrobe / Chinelo Bally
London: Pavilion, c2015.
I first saw Chinelo when she was a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee, as most people probably did. I was impressed with her freehand cutting techniques and her story. And I was thrilled when I heard that she was putting a book out. However, it's taken me all this time to actually get my hands on the book and explore it!
It's based on her method of sewing without paper patterns, a Nigerian technique she learned from her family. Essentially, you create blocks according to your own measurements, and then use those to mark a pattern right onto the fabric. It takes practice to switch your mind over to this process.
The book is laid out in three main sections: an overview of sewing techniques (great resource), an illustrated guide to taking the measurements you'll need for this method, and then a guide to making your own blocks, followed by a group of 15 projects ranging in difficulty -- this includes the velvet wrap dress which Chinelo won project of the week for on the GBSB and which everyone was swooning over at the time (including me!)
It's full of detailed information and seems like quite a different way of approaching garment sewing, but a really intriguing one. There are a few of these projects I'd like to try: while reading this, I felt inspired but haven't tried the process yet. I need a bit more time to work on creating a block according to her instructions so that I can try out a few of the designs.Picture of yesterday's work. Ankle length remake of #gbsb wrap #dress. #freehand #velvet #lace #burgundy #duskypink pic.twitter.com/3GMv1UYq7x— Chinelo Bally (@Chinelobally) April 2, 2014
This is the kind of book I'd like to have for my own so that I could refer back to it often. I'm sure that only by making quite a few things could you feel that you were beginning to get this method down. I found it to be very complete, laid out well, and with lots of fabulous illustrations to guide the reader. Of course I haven't actually tried any of the projects yet, but when I do, I will report back.
It's a colourful, modern, and inspiring book though, with good production values and a range of styles shown. And of course, since it's all done according to one's personal measurements, there are no size restrictions here. I was impressed by it.