Sunday, December 5, 2021

Weekend Review: Sew Sustainably by Wendy Ward


How to Sew Sustainably / Wendy Ward
London : CICO Books, 2021.
160 p.

Carrying on from last week's book list of reading on sustainable sewing, here's a must read if you're interested in this topic! Wendy Ward has written a handful of other sewing books, all well done, and runs a pattern company as well (MIY Collection). She really has a specific style, and it's clearly on show in this book.

So this particular title is about using up all the smaller bits of fabric we all have left after sewing, as well as trying to reduce those leftovers through low waste cutting. There are no pattern sheets in this book; everything is done via measurement, like many zero waste patterns out there. And this book isn't limited to clothing ideas, either -- there are directions for art pieces too and accessories like bags and scarves too.

The cover image is a good example of the chapter on piecing; how to put together scraps into another appealing garment. (One that I really like here, shown on the back cover above -- lengthening a dress by inserting a strip of pieced fabric in coordinating colours. So cool!) This is definitely a great idea if this aesthetic matches yours. Some people will love it, others won't find it jumps on to their to-do list. There are a couple of designs for new or larger pieces of fabric, including a huge batwing style tunic/dress and a dropped crotch pair of pants. Like we're talking knee level or lower crotch. So it's definitely cool and unique, but not something I myself might make. But reading through the concepts does start to make you think a bit more about the fabrics you have and how to use them. 

I liked the idea of including fabric scrap art projects -- some were wall art, some notecards or pieces to applique to a garment. There were a couple of techniques shown, and this might be a way readers could experiment with scraps to see if they like the process and results. I think this kind of freeform scrap use is rather fun! 

As in all of her books there is a good strong section on basic techniques. If someone who doesn't really sew much or is just learning picks up this book, they'll have enough to get started right away. And there is also a section at the end of the book on refashioning and "aftercare" -- mending and caring for garments. 

Well planned out, great photographs, unusual projects -- if you like this scrappy, edgy aesthetic, you'll like this one. Even if you don't there are some interesting ideas and techniques shared, so I am glad I read it even if most of the projects are not for me personally. I think it would really appeal to a certain kind of sewist though -- if you know someone who likes to experiment and freeform their sewing and is also concerned with sustainability, this might be a hit. 


  1. It is so interesting! Freeform scrap use and fabric scrap art are definitely fun, but very hard to allow yourself to do, or so I have found. I feel almost guilty because on the face of it there doesn't appear to be much skill .... and yet, how important is it to avoid excessive waste? I really don't believe zero waste is totally possible as, like any pattern, there still has to be some changes made to a finished item to suit our aesthetics. And one way of solving this problem is to use our scraps in a variety of ways, and have fun doing it!
    I read a post by Diane Ericson not so long back, saying isn't a detachable collar really a scarf? Which is true vice versa. And I wear many collarless tops, so am currently sewing a couple of reversible scarfs using scraps, either in construction or as a freeform decoration. I will see what comments I get! Wendy Ward is definitely on to something.

    1. I'm really interested in scrap use but definitely do find some ideas too rough for my tastes. It's great to have new ideas to work with though, and hopefully we can each find a way to reduce or reuse that we are happy with! You can tell I've been making some scarves lately, but I like the comment that detachable collars are a kind of scarf - so true :)


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!