Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Sew Thriftily: the @ Your Library edition!

Today is going to be a quick look at another way to sew thriftily. We've discussed thrift stores -- where you can look for fabric, notions, and yes, even books! And we've looked at the plethora of free sewing patterns to be found online. Then there is the concept of waiting for sales at your local fabric stores or favourite online shops.

But today's topic is your trusty local public library. Did you know that many libraries have sewing books in their collections? And that some of these are books that include patterns? Some lucky libraries even carry magazines like Burda! I wish mine did that.

These days, a big trend in libraries, at least in North America, is to have a Makerspace as part of the library. What's that? It's a place focused on making things, on experiential learning. And many Makerspaces (including my own) have sewing machines as part of their equipment. There's one in a Toronto library that I visited recently that even has a serger and an embroidery machine as part of the deal.

I've been very lucky at my library. Not only do we have sewing machines and a making-focused program team, we have some great sewing books in our collection.

Over the past year or two, I've taken out books like Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book, Breaking the Pattern (which I actually requested for purchase & the library bought -- you can do that at your library too!), and Kathleen Cheetham's Singer Perfect Plus, all with patterns to trace included, all from my own library.

Not only that, most libraries worldwide (except now for our province, don't get me started on our government cuts) offer Interlibrary Loan. I've taken good advantage of this over the years, and have requested many sewing books -- The Maker's Atelier, Wendy Ward's Beginner Guides to Making Skirts & Dressmaking, Love at First Stitch, and Chinelo Bally's Freehand Fashion, which helps you make your own patterns. Not even mentioning all the quilting, mending, embroidery and textile arts books that I've also found in libraries!

I encourage you to check out your library to see what's there; maybe you'll find something really inspiring. And don't forget to ask if something you want isn't on the shelf -- the librarians can usually find it for you somewhere.

Do you use your library for sewing resources? What have been some of your best finds?


  1. Hi Melanie, I couldn't agree more! Whilst I sometimes am a little envious of what your library offers, I am always amazed when I find I can obtain a book you recommend from our library on the other side of the globe so to speak. I do in fact meet a friend regularly at my library now to knit and talk knitting patterns, books, designers, plans for future projects, dreams etc. We have a cafe in the library which is ideal. But a makers space ..... that would be fabulous!
    I am fairly new to e-magazines you can borrow from the library, but I imagine it is not possible to print from an e-magazine, so one that would contain patterns in a hard copy would not be available online? Unless the magazine contains links to free pdf patterns in either the hard copy or e-magazine. Will have to look into this.

    1. A cafe where you can meet friends sounds amazing :) I forgot to mention how handy the library is for meetups like that!

      I find e-magazines less useful because most of them don't have links to patterns or downloads. I still prefer paper! That said, if you had something like Sew News at your library in e-format, their free online patterns would match up nicely with the instructions in the magazine.

  2. I recently posted about library resources when I was having trouble with my serger. Our local library offers a sewing machine for library users to use but no serger. (You're very lucky to have this service.) The down side here is that it's only available at the downtown location which has implemented a new security procedure. Although I can see both sides on the issue, I wonder how one would get through security with sewing supplies to use the equipment. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pov-lara-rae-winnipeg-library-safe-space-1.5049365

    1. Huh, I didn't hear about that news from the Winnipeg library. Thanks for the link. I always like to know what's happening at other libraries!

      We don't have a serger in our Makerspace yet -- 3 Janome machines though. I am hoping for a serger in future! The library in TO with the amazing space had the serger, embroidery machine, vinyl cutter etc. Jealous!


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