Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weekend Sewing

Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross has been mentioned just about everywhere lately. After reading so many rave reviews, I shelled out the $27.50(eek!) for the book, just knowing it would be money well spent. Plus, I like the idea of sewing as a leisurely activity and projects that can be completed in a few days. I get a wee bit giddy at the thought of whipping up a dress for myself in a weekend.

After spending a few weeks looking at it though, I honestly have mixed feelings about the book.

The Negative:

There are quite a few mistakes in the book. The very first pattern, the Everything Tote, calls for 1/2 yard of two different fabrics, when in fact, it should be 1 yard of each. The sizing seems to be off for the Yard-Sale Wrap skirt. I've read of people making this and needing more fabric than the pattern calls for.(info on that can be found here, here, and from a few reviewers of the book on Amazon.) I've also read that at least one of the kids patterns run small as well.

When I sat down to make the Drawstring Travel bag, it was smooth sailing until I got to the final few steps. The drawings clearly show the bag having two sets of drawstrings that you pull to cinch the bag closed, and the written instructions back this up. BUT, the bags pictured in the photos accompanying it have only one side drawstring, either knotted or tied in a bow.So even though I was following the instructions to a tee, my bag looked nothing like the ones pictured.Very frustrating. Fortunately, after a few minutes on the internet I was able to find a bag that looked like mine in the Weekend Sewing Flickr pool and I realized that the problem wasn't with me, but with the photos in the book. (It's worth mentioning that Heather Ross has a whole section of her blog devoted to the errors in the book, which is definitely helpful to read before starting anymore of the books projects. The drawstring bag issue isn't listed as one of the errors, but I'm assuming that's because the instructions themselves aren't incorrect, the problem is with the picture.)

Along that line, the photographs although visually beautiful, aren't very helpful. For instance, the one for the Market-Run Checkbook Cover just shows the closed checkbook with a grocery list and pen. It's really pretty, but I would have liked to have seen a picture of the inside of the checkbook cover. But maybe I'm just used to seeing so many projects done by bloggers on the internet...people more than willing to take half a dozen pictures from every angle.

The final problem I've had with the book is the section, Sewing for Kids. It should be titled Sewing for Babies and Toddlers. There are only two projects that go up to a size 4, both dresses. Even though my daughter is a size 4, I don't want to attempt to make them because of the books sizing issues.

The Positive:

The book is gorgeous. Really, really lovely. Even if I had no interest in sewing, I would want to look at this book.

The visual appeal of it makes it incredibly inspiring. Remember the check book cover I mentioned? That was actually going to be my first project from the book, but after reading the instructions I thought it included some steps I felt as unnecessary. (I admit I can be somewhat of a lazy seamstress. This is a personal problem, not an issue with the book. I'm working on this.) Instead of just giving up though, I created one of my own using the instructions as more of a guide, than an actual step by step pattern. I don't know if I would have been motivated to do that otherwise. (I wish I had a picture of it, but I gave it to my mom as a gift and I'm thinking it would be rude to dig around in her purse looking for it.)

The written instructions are clear and easy to understand. As my sewing gets better and I gain experience, I can see myself making quite a few things from this book. Probably even being able to adjust the pattern sizing to make dresses for my daughter. I think the biggest issue with myself and this book right now, is that because of the errors I know of, I don't fully trust it. Plus, with less than a year of sewing experience under my belt, I don't have the knowledge to work around any serious problems I may run into.

All in all, knowing what I know about it, I would still buy this book. I just would probably wait a bit until I was more skilled. Because right now, it's just an expensive book of pretty pictures.


Mari said...

I can't believe you've been sewing less than a year, your projects look great!

Karen said...

I will second your feelings about the photos--I also supspect that the women's clothing must have been tailored for the photographs, because I've made everything in a size small and it looks much roomier in person than it does on the models in the book.

melissa s. said...

i have this same issue with many craft books and patterns that i encounter. i just don't trust them 100%. bummer that this book doesn't prove us pattern skeptics wrong, because i'm always on the lookout for the one that does!

kraftykash said...

Im a new sewer too and hate dealing with patterns. Anytime I do buy a book or magazine for a project idea, Im buying it to follow a pattern. Im a "directions" kinda girl. How frustrating! I think you are doing great with sewing! Im glad you posted this, because I have seen ALOT of blogs taht are talking about this book and I was considering it. Thanks girlfriend! BTW if you need a new friend to trade care packages with, you let me know. :)

BloomingAlmond said...

I can't remember the last time i had my sewing machine working...
And gooosssh!! You're getting SO GOOD at it!!!! :D :D
I saw the other day @ soulemama's the bread bag she made and i'm totally sewing one... Your bags made think of it lol i think it's the way they i don't know... I'm silly when i'm tired :)
Jope you're boy is getting better everyday!

* * *

BloomingAlmond said...

Ohhhhhhhh!!! i forgot to say... soulemama's posted a book of patchwork sewing and stuff, i have that one but in japanese (don't ask...) and it's beautiful! very good ideas and very easy to follow :) i think you would like it!

earthmama said...

Kick ass review Ms. Irregular! Seriously, is this your next cottage industry of sorts? You should totally get paid to review products/books. You were fair and left no stone unturned. I was in a hurry, knowing I should come back later BUT STILL read your entire post. Awesome!

So glad to have this information. Phew!


Betts said...

Really great review. It's sounds like exactly the book I've been hoping for, but I won't bother what with all the mistakes. You should write your own seweing book called, "The Lazy Seamstress."

Tammie said...

im so glad this review was helpful to some of you. in all honesty i was a little apprehensive about posting it because it seems everywhere i look there are just positive reviews for the book and i was afraid to be the odd man out. and even though there is a lot i love about it, i thought the negatives were worth mentioning too.

mari: thanks! but honestly, i think im just really good at knowing my own skill level and not going beyond that. i haven't tried anything too complex yet.

karen: i know what you mean. i think the photos are set up in a way to entice you to want to do the projects, not necessarily in a way to help you complete them or to give you a true idea about size.

tania: dont tell anyone...but i already pre ordered that book. it comes out here on tuesday. im really looking forward to it. then im done buying craft books for a while! also...i love all the japanese books. are the pictures and drawings easy to follow even if you cant read the insructions?

earthmama: thank you! and if i could find a company that would hire a housewife with no college education to review books, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

betts: thanks! "The Lazy Seamstress" can be filled with patterns for things that fall apart in the wash and items that shrink because i didnt wash the fabric ahead of time. HA! ( not that bad..anymore.)

Shalet said...

Awesome - thanks for the review. I'm back on a sewing kick and may be looking for projects!

Shalet said...

BTW -- I love your cupcake photo!!!

BloomingAlmond said...

the pictures are very easy to follow i think :) but since it's all in kanji no understanding the instructions for me :P
But I LOVE that book... that one came with the skirts one and not... I don't have a skirt YET! :)

Tammie said...

ha ha...there is one in particular that im just loving. i think its called adult couture stylish dress book. i love the designs in it. but i cant get it here in the states so it would cost me $30 ($21 for the book +$9 Shipping)--i hate to spend that kinda cash and then get it and have it be useless to me.