It's no secret that I've been wanting to have a go at sewing for quite some time now, it's a craft which has so far passed me by, so when I was asked if I'd like to review a copy of Complete Dressmaking by Jules Fallon, I jumped at the chance. This book comes with the subtitle Essential skills and techniques for beginners, so I thought it would be ideal for me.
My first impression of the book is that it has all the information a beginner would need to start on their dressmaking journey. It's split in to five chapters with subheadings under each one.
Chapter 1 - Kit
As the author states, "When you start a new hobby, it can be tempting to surround yourself with all the kit you could possibly imagine you'll want to use. But when you start dressmaking, all you really need are a sewing machine, a sharp pair of scissors and an open mind. You can decide on everything else when you have a greater understanding of your way of working and what will help you to sew better". I like that you're not encouraged to go out and spend on a whole host of equipment which you'll never use before understanding what items you'll definitely need and those you won't. This chapter explores some of the essential equipment, needles, cutting equipment, sewing machine and their feet, thread and dressmaking haberdashery.
Chapter 2 - Prep
"To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail". This chapter deals with preparing for the project you're going to work on and includes information on fabrics, understanding the information on the pattern envelope, pattern symbols, measuring and making a toile, amongst many other things.
I've heard many people say how they're in between sizes so learning how to adapt a pattern is essential.
Chapter 3 - Make
For me, this is the scary part, putting it all together. However, this book goes in to each part of the process and demystifies all the terms which have sounded so intimidating:- darts, gathering, pleats and tucks, and shirring, amongst others. It tackles pockets, sleeves, yokes and waistbands and shows how to insert a zip, another thing which seems to worry people, including me.
Chapter 4 - Stretch
My wardrobe is filled with items made from jersey and knit fabric, so many of us wear T-shirts or tops made from stretch fabric these days, so I think this chapter is essential in any dressmaking guide today. This chapter deals with how knit fabric differs from woven fabric and how working with it differs too. It shows that contrary to popular belief, you don't need an overlocker and shows techniques to use when working with this type of fabric.
Chapter 5 - Finish
The finish of a garment is just as important as the rest of the make and this chapter shows how to approach each part from bound edgings to facing, hems to linings. There's information on hand sewing too as this can give a perfect finish to an item allowing a hem to become almost invisible.
I think this is a fabulous book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone just embarking on a new dressmaking hobby, and it would more than likely assist those who are more advanced in this area too. It's absolutely jam packed with information and will be a fabulous reference when I do begin my sewing adventure.
Complete Dressmaking by Jules Fallon. Published by Quarto Press (£20). Out now. If you fancy treating yourself to a copy of the book you can find it here on Amazon.