Sunday, June 20, 2021

Weekend Review: Merchant & Mills Elementary Sewing Skills

Elementary Sewing Skills / Carolyn N.K. Denham
London: Pavilion, c2014
160 p.

This is a little book I found at my library so of course I had to check it out.  It's very on brand for Merchant & Mills!

It's a small book, in actual size and page count, and does exactly what it promised, gives guidance on elementary, foundational sewing skills that beginners would need to know in order to sew well.

Information in the book is fairly clear and useful. Good basics of sewing up a pattern, from an explanation of paper patterns and how to use them, to pressing, and some minor fit adjustments. It really is elementary-- there are no 'extras', just the basics of seams, zips, buttons etc. 

However, the dedication to the Merchant & Mills aesthetic makes this less useful as a modern sewing text. It certainly makes it visually appealing in a very vintage way -- it's illustrated by pen & ink effect line drawings, along with some moody photos which evoke their pattern cover images.

I felt that it was a little consciously twee, with an old fashioned feel to it. While it certainly fits their brand, I am not sure new sewists of today prefer this kind of introduction to the elements of sewing. More experienced sewists and those who appreciate the Merchant & Mills style overall might find this book to their tastes, even if the information is not new to them. I can appreciate it as a lovely item while not really buying it as a beginner intro that will have much appeal. 


  1. I agree, a bit too twee and I’m not sure of the intended audience. I really want to like the aesthetic, but I can’t get past the photos of garments all scrunched up.

    1. Yes to all of this. Unsure about the appropriateness for the intended audience.


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