Book Review #1: How to Sew: Basics

With thanks to David and Charles and The Sewing Directory, I’ve been reading my way through 4 ebooks on various sewing techniques. I still very much consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing – I took my first class in April of this year – so I’m a keen reader of all instruction books!

Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start).

How to Sew: Basics

Cover of "How to Sew: Basics"

I should start by saying that for instructions, I generally prefer pieces of paper, so that I can scribble my own notes, or not have to balance my computer on my craft table. Having said that, I liked the look of the books themselves, which don’t try to cram too much information onto one page. Also, I love it when ebooks take advantage of their format and actually make the links clickable. This doesn’t happen as much as you might hope, so being able to click through for the templates was a big plus for me.

I really liked the approach taken, starting with the basics of sewing – fabric and thread – before moving on to more specific techniques. The survey of fabrics was really good, and the basic sewing kit was genuinely ‘the essentials’. I’m always wary when that kind of list runs to three pages! One problem I did run into, however, was the resolution of the pictures. There were times when I wanted to zoom in, particularly on the embellishments page, but doing so just gave me a rather pixellated image. I’m not sure where the line between file size and clarity is best draw, but I would have liked the images in a rather higher resolution than they were.

This also caused me problems in the techniques section. The wording was, necessarily, rather brief, designed to give a quick overview rather than detailed instruction. But not being able to zoom in and match the pictures to the words meant that in both the bias tape and the zip sections, I ended up more confused than enlightened.

Overall, I liked the book, for its tips and hints and useful survey of the various sewing techniques. As someone who is still trying to understand the difference between quilting and patchwork, it was a great overview, but it felt like it was trying to do too much in very few pages. Having said that, both the patchwork and quilting pages were very helpful, and demystified them enough that I’m planning on having a go soon!


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