Sunday, September 3, 2023

Weekend Review: How to Sew Clothes


How to Sew Clothes / Amelia Greenhall & Amy Bornman
NY: Abrams, c2023.
208 p.

I picked up this new book recently just to take a look (at Book Outlet, which I have a small addiction to). It has just a few basic style patterns in it, so I wasn't sure it would really do it for me, being pretty starter level. But I was so wrong. This is a great book! 

It has a handful of designs in it -- and you can see the contents fully laid out and explained at the All Well Workshop's website. But it really lives up to its subtitle -- it's full of easy hacks, clearly explained, to extend the potential of a basic pattern. The patterns themselves are on sheets folded in the back of the book, for tracing. There's the famous All Well Box Top, a Cardigan Jacket, and a couple of bags, but from that you can build a pretty good start to a wardrobe. 

I really like the layout and the relaxed tone of the book. The photography and sewing instructions are nicely done, appealing and easy to use. And the authors have an encouraging, casual tone but also give you lots of solid instruction and guidance. 

There's a section of sewing basics, and one on tips for the sewing life -- I haven't seen anything quite like this in other sewing books and it's wonderful. It talks about things like how to use Indie patterns and pdfs, keeping a notebook of projects, tracing existing garments and so on. Very basic, in the sense that there will no confusing jargon for any newbie reader. 

And there is another section at the end with tips on continuing with your sewing journey. It's a series of short tidbits on many different topics, and I loved the first one: Prioritize by Excitement. If you're overwhelmed by project options (and who isn't at some point) they say pick the one you're excited about. Such good advice! There's also bits on ebbs & flows, finding sewing friends, perfectionism and more. And of course I appreciated the shout-out to sewing book sections at the public library! 

I was very impressed with this book as a whole, it feels like one of the gentlest and most approachable beginner books I've seen. It's completely non-intimidating, but still doesn't dumb down the process of learning to sew, and offers encouragement to grow past a pattern and improve your sewing skills. This will be my first choice to offer to beginner sewists in future. I thought it was great. 


  1. Amazing. I just checked out this book at MY public library (plus I'm a librarian) yesterday and skim read it last night. I'm an advanced beginner sew-er but was charmed as well.

    1. It does have charm! How funny that you just got it out as well :)

  2. Hi Melanie, It never ceases to amaze me how you can recommend a book and even though I am on the other side of the world, I can put a hold on it at my library! And this is no exception. It must be a popular book - there are five copies in my library! All out of course, but I should get it in a month. It sounds quite a unique sewing book. Many tips although not necessarily about sewing per se, but everything around it:
    Once again, thank you for the recommendation.
    .... Sara

    1. It is fairly new so maybe that's why! I hope you'll enjoy it too :)


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