Sunday, March 8, 2020

Weekend Review: Sew U Home Stretch

Sew U: Home Stretch / Wendy Mullin
NY: Little Brown, c2008.
208 p.

Book Two in this intro to sewing series by Wendy Mullin focuses on sewing with knits. Like her first book that introduces wovens, this book goes into basics first. What are knits? How do you use them? What tools will you need? What are the differences in knit fabrics?

All this is covered in the first few chapters; I liked the description of different knits, what they are best used for, and how to identify them -- I recall that being quite hard to figure out in the beginning. I also really liked how she says in the tools chapter that a serger is great and if you have access to one, that is wonderful. But she also recommends that you try one and see if you'll use it before you buy, and explains how all these knit projects can also be made on a regular old sewing machine, using a few tricks like a stretch stitch/zig zag. I feel that this is much less intimidating for a beginner, and besides, even after all these years I don't have a serger and sew all my own knits on my basic Janome. She also mentions the issues that can show up when cutting or sewing knits, and gives tips on making the most of a knit.

Just like the first book, this one also has three tissue paper patterns included in the back of the book. They are basic blocks that the rest of the book shows you how to adjust and restyle to make various options. They are a basic tee, a raglan tee, and a skirt/dress.

The same limited sizing appears in this book as well; the range goes from XS - L, or, from a 32-38" bust and 36-42" hip. I am at the top end of this sizing so can use it, but if you're not, you'll have to know to grade up to use this book. Or, just use it for the style ideas, and adapt one of your own basic knit patterns that you already have and fits you well. 

What I do really enjoy about this book is the freewheeling nature of the projects. Take this basic block, she says, and then make these adjustments (all laid out neatly in a project box) and make something that looks completely different. I love the inspiration to create freely in all of her books, how she believes that even a beginner can learn to use a pattern and make it their own. She encourages you not to be scared to change things and make what you want out of a basic pattern. 

I also like the aesthetic -- while some of the designs are probably more appealing to younger sewists, there are a few here that I'd like to try -- changing a tee into this "Mini Me", or creating a baby doll dress style from a basic bodice, or even just changing sleeves to make a dress look very different. And the illustration style is the same in all of these books, so good thing I really love it. It feels inspiring for me. 

I think that a confident beginner would like this book, and also, that it would be great to be told from the beginning of one's sewing career that patterns are just plans, you can change them! You can use bare bones designs and add and subtract style lines to your heart's content. Just for that message, I would recommend these books. Add in the beginner level sewing info, and I am a fan of this series. While this book is about half info and half project, I think it has enough in it to satisfy a reader. And inspire a beginner to take a chance on knits. 

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