Sewn With Love by Fiona Bell I’ve had a really hard time finding time for sewing since I had children, and I’ve mostly only made the time to sew garb, since that’s really hard and expensive to buy if you don’t make it yourself. And yet – when I saw this book at work, not even cataloged yet, I was inspired. It is full of beautiful, classic designs for clothes and accessories, for both boys and girls. OK, the clothing for boys was in the simple department – button-down shirts, shorts, and pajamas. The bulletin board was done in a more masculine print, too, and the simple but adorable stuffed frog (indeed, all the non-clothing items) could easily go either way. The girls’ clothing featured lots of dresses with full skirts and details like pin tucks, lace, or rick-rack. Pretty much everything is done in vintage-looking print fabric. I was so inspired that I checked out the book and am trying to make a dress for my little girl. And now comes the reality check. The book has lots of gorgeous color photography of all the clothes, and instructions for sewing. A CD-ROM in the back includes patterns to print out. Not until I went to print out the pattern was I able to track down the size chart. Instead of putting the ranges for the patterns with each pattern, this is located in a tiny box buried at the back of the book. Even though most patterns in the book give the yardage required, they give just one yardage for all the size ranges, which is quite puzzling. I discovered as I was going to print out the pattern that my daughter is too big for the largest size of the baby patterns I’d chosen, though still too young for me to feel she’d look good in any of the big girl patterns. I do wish they’d put the size ranges with differentiated yardage requirements in for each pattern, and, again puzzling, their measurements assume that children have waists smaller than their chests. The photographs are gorgeous, but not calculated to show the full design of the garments, and no schematic drawings are given either in the book or on the cd-rom. The instructions are written for people with a fair amount of sewing experience – she suggests starting with the laundry bag or the duvet cover if you’re new to sewing. I have yet to find explanations for the symbols used in the patterns – again fine if you’re experienced. Bell also seems to assume that the sewer will have both a regular sewing machine and a serger. On the plus side, she does include resources for buying vintage-style fabric (she uses her own gorgeous prints, which would ship from the UK.) Despite these short-comings, this book is beautiful and seductive and has me wanting to sew everyday rather than just medieval clothing for both my children to wear.
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